Mississippi mayor says city will halt state’s open carry gun law during coronavirus crisis to curb gun violence

Published 1:41 pm Monday, April 27, 2020

The mayor of Mississippi’s capital city has temporarily put a halt to the state’s law allowing firearms to be openly carried. He says his aim is to curb gun violence.

“For too long gun violence has plagued our city and disproportionately affected black and brown communities here in Jackson and nationwide,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “In the space of just one week, two innocent children have lost their lives due to senseless gun violence.”

Lumumba said he believes many of the killings could have been avoided if the hands of police were not tied by Mississippi’s open carry law.

“The City of Jackson faces a significant challenge with illegal guns,” the mayor said in a video statement released over the weekend. “The open carry law interferes with law enforcement’s ability to take illegal guns off of the streets.

“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 whether it was an illegal weapon or not.”

Lumumba said violent gun crime in the city could be curbed if the police were better equipped to identify and check weapons to determine if they are legally owned or not.

“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,” he said. “Since 2013, child deaths by firearms in the south have increased by 72% according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Lumumba said action, not happy thoughts after the fact needed to happen.

“Sending our thoughts and prayers to the families who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence is not enough,” he said. “We must be moved to action.”

The mayor said he’s taking advantage of the current COVID-19 coronavirus state of emergency to override the state law through an executive order.

“I want to make it clear that I have no principle disagreement with the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but all rights must be balanced by reasonable regulations,” he said. “Your right to swing ends at my nose.”

They mayor acknowledged that his action would only be temporary, but said he’s hopeful that other local and state leaders would work to repeal the law and thus better equip law enforcement to curb violent gun crime.

“Repeal the open carry law, which makes it impossible for our police officers to root out illegal firearms in our streets,” he said. “How many babies do we have to bury to appease someone’s desire to open carry?”

Lumumba’s action drew criticism from Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch.

“Cities can’t usurp the authority of the State’s elected Legislature and violate the Constitutional rights of the people,” she wrote on social media. “I support the 2nd Amendment and will enforce the laws of this State.”