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Guns have no legitimate place at polling sites

With the current socio-political climate, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently banned people from openly carrying guns within 100 feet of voting sites.

However, Judge Christopher Murray on Tuesday blocked the ban of openly displaying guns near Michigan polling places on Election Day, saying Benson failed to go through a formal rule-making process required under state law.

While there’s plenty of worthy debate about the process itself and if Benson took the appropriate steps to enact the ban, we believe the spirit of the ban is in line with safeguarding voters, and by extension, democracy.

We believe there are appropriate times, places and official uses for the guns. For example, the police need them to do their job. So do the military and a handful of other legitimate endeavors.

But at a voting site, they have absolutely no place.

There is no good that could come out of a show of firearms outside of our local precincts.

Because when people plan to display guns outside polling places, we must ask what they plan to do with that firearm.

What does it take for them to point their gun at someone? What is their threshold for pulling the trigger?

Can you imagine the horrific outcomes of these actions and the chain reaction that would follow?

It’s unimaginable.

And still, some might argue that self-defense or protection of the election’s integrity are worthy reasons to display a gun outside a polling place.

But who is so threatening at a voting site that a firearm is needed?

The poll workers — who are 74 years old on average in Michigan, according to a July 2020 report in The Gander — who are risking their lives to ensure area residents have a chance to vote?

Your friends and neighbors who exercised their constitutional right by coming to the polls to make their voices heard?

The people who plan to vote differently than you would?

Do you truly need an openly displayed firearm to protect yourself from your friends and neighbors down at your local voting precinct?

The simple, rational answer is a resounding no.

And when we rule out protection and self-defense as reasons for displaying a gun at the polls, what do we have left?

Intimidation. Fear. Suppression.

These are not American values.

If you feel patriotism, democracy or self-protection are behind your desire to display a firearm at the polls, we recommend seriously reflecting on those reasons, as creating an intimidating atmosphere for voters is a complete offense to those ideals.

Our democracy cannot hold up if voters have guns pointed at them.

We cannot claim to be a great nation if our voters are fearful, injured or killed by firearms while exercising their rights at the polls.

We urge you to keep yourself, your friends, your family, your community and your democracy safe.

Don’t bring a gun to the polls.

And if you see something intimidating, suspicious or unsettling at the polls, don’t hesitate to inform local law enforcement and election officials.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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