I have previously blogged on MS gun laws and recent tweaks in the law. In the paper, Sunday, there was an article that stated effective July, MS will allow open carry. (Perhaps, more accurately stated is that it appears that it is not prohibited.)
Previously, the MS Attorney General opined, in June 2012, which is only “advisory,” that it is illegal to carry a handgun without a license (concealed carry permit). The license requires that the entirety of the handgun be concealed. The above picture would be a violation of the old law. If the jacket were covering it completely, it would not be if you had a concealed carry permit. This will be changed effective July 1, 2013, and includes incidental unconcealment will not be a violation. My prior article regarded this “tweak” of the law. However, another inspection of the law change also reveals a few other things ADDED to and REMOVED from the prior law.
97-37-1. (1) Except as otherwise provided in Section 45-9-101, any person who carries, concealed * * * on or about one’s person, any pistol, revolver… must have a concealed carry license.
(4) For the purposes of this section, “concealed” means hidden or obscured from common observation and shall not include any weapon listed in subsection (1) of this section, including, but not limited to, a loaded or unloaded pistol carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible, or carried upon the person in a scabbard or case for carrying the weapon that is wholly or partially visible.
This change now takes any pistol out of the definition of “concealed” if in a holster and visible or partly visible. This means the above picture is no longer a concealed handgun and no longer is subject to concealed carry license requirements.
The licensing requirements of this section do not apply to the carrying by any person of a stun gun, pistol or revolver, …that is not concealed as defined in Section 97-37-1.
So now the law change has established what the definition of “concealed” is NOT and that a pistol in a holster, on your person, that is visible is not concealed.
Now for the REMOVED section.
The prior law had a clause to the effect ‘that nothing herein may be used to authorize open carry…‘ This language has been deleted from the new law. The reason is because now this concealed carry law, which defines “concealed,” specifically excludes being applied to a pistol in a holster that is visible. It, by default, defines open carry.
There is a maxim in the law that holds that which is not prohibited is allowed. “Everything which is not forbidden is allowed” is a constitutional principle of English law — an essential freedom of the ordinary citizen. MS has no law, effective July, that prohibits open carry (and did not prior to this either, really). Or rather, MS law now defines a pistol in a holster as not concealed and therefore not subject to concealed carry license requirements.
So, what else is on the books? The MS Constitution guarantees our rights to keep and bear arms (along with the US Constitution). There is nothing else in the law regarding concealed or open carry for citizens.
You can read the bill for yourself here. While it is not black and white law allowing for open carry, there is now (July 2013) “nothing” which can be used to prohibit open carry. Interestingly, I have heard that the same restrictions to concealed carry apply to open carry, meaning limitations on locations and that if a person posted a sign that you could not carry on premises. I say “interestingly” because the prohibitions are all in the concealed carry license statute, the law which specifically authorizes concealed carry. The argument could be made that open carry is not subject to concealed carry rules because it is specifically excluded from the definition.
I predict some more law changes and litigation/law enforcement run-ins about this one.
Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and supports your Second Amendment rights.
You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms