Federal lawsuit filed to challenge Jackson mayor’s ban on open carry firearms during pandemic

Published 2:39 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Mississippi Justice Institute filed a lawsuit Monday on against the Jackson, Mississippi, mayor over his order to suspend the state’s open carry firearms law.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mississippi Rep. Dana Criswell, R-DeSoto County, who says the order violates his Second Amendment rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced his order in a video statement released over the weekend. He said the order was due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic creating a sense of heightened stress and anxiety that has led to violence. The mayor pointed to two recent shootings that have occurred in the city in which young children were shot and killed.

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The mayor said the hands of the police are tied by the open carry law.

“Prior to the open carry law, when Jackson police officers saw a gun in plain view, it gave them probable cause to seize the weapon and determine if it was an illegal weapon or not,” Lumumba said.

The lawsuit argues the mayor’s order is unconstitutional because it infringes on a federal protection.

“A serious pandemic is not an opportunity for unconstitutional virtue signaling by grandstanding politicians,” said Aaron Rice, the Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute. “Mayor Lumumba has exploited the present public health crisis as a pretext to target law abiding people who are exercising their constitutional rights.”

For his part, Criswell said it boils down to safety.

“As a citizen of the great state of Mississippi who has regular business in our capital city of Jackson, I was shocked by the recent announcement by Mayor Lumumba,” said Criswell. “I take the protection of myself and my family very seriously and believe deeply in the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch weighed in and sent Mayor Lumumba a letter dated Sunday in which she contends the mayor does not have the legal authority to override state law.

To read the lawsuit, click here.

To read Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s letter to Mayor Lumumba click here.