Mississippi AG Shoots Down Order from Mayor Who Made the Mistake of Banning Open Carry
One of the many disturbing things that Americans have seen occur in the midst of the coronavirus crisis is anti-gun politicians using the pandemic as an excuse to press forward with their incessant attempts to undermine the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
While these attacks on the gun rights of American citizens have typically happened in Democratic-controlled jurisdictions, they have not been entirely exclusive to blue states, as evidenced by a recent example out of the solidly red state of Mississippi.
On Saturday, the Democratic elected leader of the state’s capital city of Jackson, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, announced he had signed an executive order banning the right of citizens to open-carry firearms within his jurisdiction for the duration of the current public health emergency.
Unfortunately for the mayor — and thankfully for the city’s law-abiding and gun-owning citizenry — the state’s attorney general quickly stepped in.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch informed Lumumba that he lacks the authority to suspend the state’s open-carry law in Jackson, and separately, the mayor is now facing a lawsuit stemming from his gross overreach.
Mayor Lumumba revealed his anti-gun executive order in a video that began with him lamenting the recent death of two young children to gun violence and the supposed prevalence of “illegal” guns on the streets of Jackson.
“The open-carry law interferes with law enforcement’s ability to take illegal guns off of the streets,” the mayor said. “Prior to the open-carry law, when Jackson police officers saw a gun in plain view, it gave them the probable cause to seize the weapon and determine if it was an illegal weapon or not.”
“The open-carry law not only provides protection to individuals who are armed with illegal weapons, it creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the community,” he continued, going on to assert that the open-carry law had resulted in an increase of gun violence in the community.
Noting that “thoughts and prayers” for victims and their families simply wasn’t good enough, Mayor Lumumba revealed his “decision to issue an executive order suspending the open-carry law during the COVID-19 civil emergency.”
He cited the “discretion” and authority he believed he had under state statute § 45-17-7 that allows for a “chief administrative officer” to prohibit certain acts and activities during a declared emergency.
He ended his message by trashing the fundamental rights of gun ownership as not being “legitimate” and promoted a petition that called on local and state leaders to repeal the open-carry law.
However, Attorney General Fitch quickly informed the mayor she had “serious concerns” about his order. Fitch informed Lumumba by letter Monday that he lacked the authority to make any such order in contravention of state laws, as the powers he had cited belonged to the governor and not a mayor.
“The governor’s proclamation does not authorize you to suspend the right to open carry, or any other statute or constitutional provision governing firearm possession,” Fitch wrote.
The attorney general did acknowledge the tragedy of the children who’d recently been killed by gunfire, but argued that the open-carry law had nothing to do with those unfortunate deaths.
“Mississippians enjoy the right to lawfully open carry in all of Mississippi’s 82 counties and in every municipality in the state. The city of Jackson is no exception,” the attorney general wrote. “The city lacks statutory authority to suspend a state statute or constitutional provision. Accordingly, I ask that you rescind the order immediately.”
Meanwhile, WAPT reported that a lawsuit was filed by the Mississippi Justice Institute on behalf of a state lawmaker in opposition of the “unconstitutional and illegal” action taken by the mayor.
The lawsuit laid out how Lumumba and city of Jackson had no right to suspend open-carry of firearms, or any other constitutional rights, for that matter, regardless of the current emergency.
“While we are deeply saddened by the horrific crimes that have occurred in Jackson, those crimes have nothing to do with the current public health crisis or the right to openly carry a firearm in public for self-defense,” the director of the MJI, Aaron Rice, said.
The mayor’s call for a repeal of the open-carry law was also met with opposition from the commissioner of the state’s Agriculture and Commerce department, Andy Gipson.
“The legislature can not take away the right to open carry,” Gipson said. “That is the elected body of the people of the state. It’s in the constitution; it’s a constitutional right.
“Certainly, the constitution and the laws that we pass through the legislature are to give law-abiding citizens the right to carry to protect themselves. No criminal cares what the law says, they’re going to carry, they’re going to hide it, they’re going to put it out of view until they’re ready to hurt somebody.”
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