Mississippi Mayor Bans Open Carry As A Public Health Measure During The Pandemic

flag-of-mississippiThere is an interesting fight brewing in Jackson, Mississippi over gun rights — a dispute that could foreshadow the type of constitutional concerns that Attorney General Bill Barr referenced earlier.  Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba relied on state law for emergency orders and the current pandemic to justify a ban on open carry within city limits.  That drew an objection from Attorney General of the State Lynn Fitch that such an order is unconstitutional.  I previously wrote how churches could be restricted under the pandemic. However, this is an example of officials exceeding their authority in limiting the exercise of a constitutional right.  Open-carry has not been declared a federal constitutional right, but the justification by Lumumba would be difficult to maintain on a legal basis.

Lumumba claimed authority under the Mississippi Code 45-17-7 during the pandemic as granting him “the discretion in the interest of public safety and welfare to issue such orders that are necessary for the protection of life and property.”  However, he cited the scourge of gun violations — the justification raised before the pandemic as a basis for such gun controls.  That makes the pandemic appear purely opportunistic.

Indeed, his video tape states that “for too long, gun violence has plagued our city and disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities here in Jackson and nationwide.”  He added “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.” That seems to have little grounding in the pandemic emergency as opposed to the general opposition to open carry laws.

The open carry law is viewed as a state right under Mississippi constitutional and statutory law.  If a court agreed, local governments would be preempted in limiting such a right.  That appears to be what Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has in mind in declaring “Cities can’t usurp the authority of the State’s elected Legislature and violate the Constitutional rights of the people. I support the 2nd Amendment and will enforce the laws of this State.”

Barr notably warned

“If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.”

This would seem a matter best left to the State Attorney General. As noted, there is no federal precedent treating open carry as a constitutionally protected right as opposed to gun ownership. Thus, going to federal rather than state court would not seem an optimal legal strategy.

75 thoughts on “Mississippi Mayor Bans Open Carry As A Public Health Measure During The Pandemic”

  1. Patrice Émery Lumumba (/lʊˈmʊmbə/; alternatively styled Patrice Hemery Lumumba; 2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) was a Congolese politician and independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Republic of the Congo) from June until September 1960.

    Dictator and The Soviets named their University for training Communist trainees from around the world after …

    Does it run in the family?

  2. “For too long, gun violence has plagued our city and disproportionately affected Black and
    Brown communities here in Jackson and nationwide”

    Funny that he speaks of “gun violence” as if it’s a third party…and the “black and brown communities” as if they’re innocent bystanders.

    He could have just said…”Blacks and browns disproportionately shoot each other, a lot”.

    1. I suspect that if the black and brown people went away the ‘gun violence’ would go with them.

  3. The “right” to keep and BEAR arms shall not be infringed. Open carry is “bearing” arms. The affirmation of the 2nd amendment by the SCOTUS should be the only ruling necessary Mr. Turley.

  4. While we are at it, let’s read what Chief Lumumba said:
    Please see Mayor Lumumba’s video transcript below:

    “For too long, gun violence has plagued our city and disproportionately affected Black and
    Brown communities here in Jackson and nationwide.

    In the space of just one week – two innocent children lost their lives due to senseless gun violence. Many of these killings could have been avoided if we had state law that enabled us to better control the presence of firearms on our streets.

    As a city, we have championed progressive programs toward lessening the occurrence of violent crime here in Jackson with our violence interruption and credible messenger programs- to find better solutions to interpersonal conflict before they turn deadly– but these measures alone will not stop the gun crime that we have become all too accustomed to experiencing.

    The City of Jackson faces a significant challenge with illegal guns. The Open Carry Law interferes with law enforcement’s ability to take illegal guns off of the streets.Prior to Open Carry, when Jackson police officers saw a gun in plain view, it gave them probable cause to seize the weapon and determine whether or not it was an illegal gun.

    The open carry law not only provides protection for individuals who are armed with illegal weapons; it also creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the community. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that the Open Carry Law has led to an increase in gun violence in our communities.

    Since 2013, child deaths by firearms in the South have increased 72%, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.Sending our thoughts and prayers to the families who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence is not enough.

    If we are sincere in our hope for better outcomes and a brighter future for our youth, we must be moved to action. It is this call to action that has led to my decision to issue an Executive Order suspending Open Carry law during the COVID-19 civil emergency. Under State Statute 45-17-7(e), I am given the discretion in the interest of public safety and welfare to issue such orders that are necessary for the protection of life and property.

    In this moment of great distress and economic tension it is important that we eliminate the ability for illegal weapons to inflict irreparable harm on our City. I want to make it clear that I have no principal disagreement with the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but all rights must be balanced by reasonable regulations. A right that protects illegal guns and puts more people in fear, a right that escalates conflict beyond a point of resolution, and a right that interferes with another person’s right to live is not a legitimate right to be maintained.

    Your right to swing ends at my nose.

    While this order will only be in effect for a short period of time, I am calling on all Jackson residents, and all state and local leaders to act in the interest of our innocent children. Repeal the Open Carry law which makes it impossible for law enforcement to root out illegal firearms on our streets.

    How many babies do we have to bury to appease someone’s desire to open carry?”
    The link is in the Professor’s article above.

    Now let’s think about this. First, what is an “illegal gun”? Is it a machine gun, or is it a gun in the possession of someone who is not legally permitted to have it? For example, a Black Thug with a criminal record. I submit it is the latter.

    So why doesn’t the Mayor say that Jackson needs to get is Black Thugs with Criminal Records off the street? Because that would be telling the truth, and Lumumba wants to avoid that.

    Second, the Open Carry law does not make it legal for Black Thugs with Criminal Records to possess a gun. The Black Thugs are already breaking the law by possessing a gun, so why should they obey a law making it illegal for them to Open Carry? They won’t just like they don’t obey other laws, like not selling dope and stealing stuff. And, if they are willing to shoot down another person, IN PUBLIC, where the Open Carry laws apply, what makes any sensible person think they are going to follow any other law???

    The whole point here is that Lumumba is simply pandering to Blacks with this crap and by refusing to blame the guilty Black Thugs who are behind the violence, he tries to blame everybody and everything else.

    In short, the 3 year old and the 11 year old children are dead because the Mayor is a race-pandering coward who refuses to face reality and speak it openly.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. Oh, and another thing. Why do they call it “gun violence???” It is BLACK violence. BLACK violence has made Chiraq, and Killadelphia and Baltimore and Memphis and Detroit etc. etc. etc. into cesspools.

    What is this fear of calling it what it is? It’s like trying to pretend the terrorists aren’t Muslims or something.

    Let’s just quit pretending blacks aren’t violent, and a whole lot of other bad things as a group.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. As I said below: it is young black male violence, not gun violence.

      In the UK where there are no guns, they say, they still manage to have black male violence with guns.

      But since guns are more difficult to get knives have suddenly become animated with evil impulses and we read of rampant ‘knife violence’ as if the people holding these things have no will or responsibility of their own.

    2. Squeeky:

      I think it’s blue gun violence cause you know the metal is blued! Or maybe nickel gun violence or preferably stainless gun violence.

  6. While we’re at it, I thought the basis upon which we were allowing these state of emergencies to be declared was to ensure that the health care system didn’t get flooded. It wasn’t to reduce the number of overall infections. It was to spread them out a little bit. Now they’re in place until there’s a vaccine?

    We seem to be experiencing some mission creep. In addition to expanding the original mission, the original mission itself has been an inverse disaster for a lot of states. Hospitals are going empty because “non-essential” tumor and cancer screenings and treatments have been stopped. Doctors and nurses are being furloughed.

    Clarity of the mission here, and with it the basis for emergency powers, seems to be a bit fuzzy.

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