Bill Introduced To Strip Lawful Carry Within 100 Yards Of Polling Places

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Turn on the news to any of the mainstream or even off-the-beaten-path news channels, sites, organizations, etc. and you can get your fill of violence. Murder, rioting, crazed Karens, white supremacists, fill-in-the-blank of crime ridden madness that you can imagine is injected into our brains daily. It’s an overload, or at least it can be. One thing that I personally don’t recall seeing anything substantial of over the last few years is armed voter intimidation. Why are we even discussing this? Well, Congressmen Raul Ruiz from California seems to think people being armed at polling places should be outlawed. Brace yourself to bring on the eye rolls.

From a recent press release:

Today, Congressmen Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) announced the introduction of H.R. 4722, the Vote Without Fear Act, to prevent armed intimidation at the voting booth. During the 2020 general election, there were numerous reports of individuals bringing firearms to federal election sites with the apparent purpose of intimidation. Following the election, states like Arizona saw armed groups arrive at ballot counting locations protesting to overturn the outcome of the election. The Vote Without Fear Act would halt dangerous voter intimidation practices by prohibiting the possession of a firearm within 100 yards of a federal election site, defined as a polling place or a ballot counting location.

This nonsense deserves an army of Pinocchios. I think I would remember armed people harassing others at polling places fairly vividly. We’d be naïve to think mainstream media would not be having a field day with such footage. To be able to come up with content for this piece a good deal of research had to be done.

Ruiz wants to subvert one Constitutional right while exercising another. Arizona, for instance, was specifically cited as a state that so-called “armed groups” were at ballot counting locations. Arizona is actually one of the states where it is illegal to have a firearm at a polling place already.  What does the news have to say about this? Do a web search. What’d you find? All I could find was one mention of a situation after the 2020 presidential election:

But the election officials on duty Wednesday in Arizona did not pause the poll workers’ vote counts, even as protesters angrily shouted at them through walls.

Police escorted Maricopa County election workers to their cars late Wednesday night as protesters chanted and rallied for hours outside. Several members of the crowd openly carried firearms.

Going on a trek to find out the legality of what states allow people to be armed versus the practice being prohibited was not as easy as one would assume it to be. Finally hitting the jackpot, or seemingly so, a “factsheet” on voter intimidation from Georgetown Law. According to the sheet:

Are guns permitted at polling places?

Sometimes. As the Giffords Law Center explains, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and the District of Columbia “explicitly prohibit guns at polling locations,” while Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina “prohibit concealed firearms at the polls.” Guns may also be prohibited when polling locations are in K–12 schools and other property where firearms are not permitted.

So there are the states that have laws prohibiting people from being armed at polling places. A more compelling question is why are the big brains at Georgetown, a prestigious law school, citing Giffords? Don’t they have the brain power to actually do this research on their own? Apparently to Georgetown, Giffords is a leading authority and should be cited in their documents. Incompetence or collusion?

Before diving further into whether or not this is an actual problem in our current clime, let’s look at the proposed bill text:

‘‘§ 932. Prohibition on unauthorized firearm possession at a Federal election site

‘‘(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm in, or within 100 yards of an entrance to, a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a Federal election site, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
‘‘(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to—
‘‘(A) the possession of a firearm by a law enforcement officer employed by the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof, or a private security guard hired or arranged for by the owner or manager of a building in which there is a Federal election site, who is authorized by law to possess a firearm and who is on duty;
‘‘(B) the possession of a firearm in a vehicle within 100 yards of an entrance to a Federal election site, if the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is in, or within 100 yards of the entrance to, a Federal election site;
or
‘‘(C) the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm in a place of residence, in a place of business, or on private property, in or within 100 yards of an entrance to a Federal election site.
‘‘(b) Whoever, with intent that a firearm be used in the commission of a crime, knowingly possesses or causes to be present the firearm in, or within 100 yards of an entrance to, a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a Federal election site, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
‘‘(c) A person who kills any person in the course of a violation of subsection (a) or (b), or in the course of an attack on a Federal election site, involving the use of a firearm, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in sections 1111, 1112, 1113, and 1117.
‘‘(d) In this section, the term ‘Federal election site’ means a building or any part thereof at which an employee of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof is engaged in
‘‘(1) the administration of a polling place in an election for Federal office; or
‘‘(2) the processing or counting of ballots cast in such an election.’’.

That’s the soup to nuts on the proposed bill. Looking over the bill and not knowing what “sections 1111, 1112, 1113, and 1117.” were, I did look that up. For your own edification this is what you need to know about those sections:

1111.Murder.
1112.Manslaughter.
1113.Attempt to commit murder or manslaughter.

1117.Conspiracy to murder.

Ruiz and his team thought it was important to note that “A person who kills any person in the course of a violation of subsection (a) or (b), or in the course of an attack on a Federal election site, involving the use of a firearm, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished…” according to the law we already have. What makes Ruiz think that someone killing another person needs to have that listed? A special murder at a polling place would require the actor to be charged with murder. Bravo. Slow clap. Murder is still murder according to Ruiz.

The press release continues with the normal outlandish unsubstantiated claims one could expect from lawmakers and talking heads on such a subject:

“In recent federal elections, we have seen an alarming rise in armed intimidation at the voting booth,” said Rep. Ruiz

“ADL is deeply concerned about violent intimidation at election sites undermining the fundamental right to vote,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). “Every voter must be able to safely cast their ballot without fear of intimidation. We are grateful for Rep. Ruiz’s leadership on the Vote Without Fear Act, a crucial step in curbing extremism and securing democracy and equality for all Americans.”

“Armed intimidation at the polls is voter suppression – there is no place for and no need for armed intimidation in our democratic processes,” said Brady President Kris Brown.

“As our intelligence agencies warn of the increasing threat of armed extremists, we must take steps to ensure that all Americans can exercise the franchise free of intimidation,” said Guns Down America Executive Director Igor Volsky.

“Americans being able to vote freely and of their own conscience is the bedrock of our democracy,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

So is armed voter intimidation a problem? Apparently not.

From an October 30, 2020 piece:

Still, experts said that in a conflict between voters’ right to cast ballots peacefully and the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the interest of voters would likely prevail, and that election officials had wide latitude to prevent disruptions.

Cases involving weapons at the polls are rare, and one of the most notorious in recent times involved a nightstick, not a gun.

Or this November 3, 2020 USA Today article “Concerns about extremist violence, voter intimidation at polls fail to materialize“:

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which runs a national voting complaint hotline, told reporters late Tuesday afternoon there were “very isolated and sporadic” reports of alleged intimidation, including armed individuals at polling places.

“Fortunately this hasn’t been a systematic or widespread issue,” she said. “We certainly were prepared for this being a bigger problem than it proved to be today.”

“In large part, people are not intimidated and are determined and are going to vote despite the presence of these individuals,” Clarke said.

The Constitutionality of whether or not someone may be armed or not is a compelling question. A polling place is considered sacred. Sacred like churches, synagogues and other houses of worship. In short, places where Constitutional rights are being exercised, and as such the Second Amendment should not be excluded. All the talks about voter intimidation and violence is cause for law abiding, peaceful, and responsible gun owners to want to be able to protect themselves. Congressmen Ruiz is just doing what California politicians do. He wants to turn the rest of the nation into California, a state full of failed policies and Unconstitutional provisions in the law. From most accounts, armed voter intimidation seems like a big nothing burger.