The question above has been asked, searched, googled and pondered more than any other gun law query in recent months.
Mississippi was set to be an “Open Carry” state, joining about 30 other States, effective July 1. I say “was” because there is some doubt right now. The Mississippi legislature passed House Bill 2 set to “kick-in” July 1, which was signed by the Governor, making it law. However, a Hinds County Circuit Judge said not so fast. Judge Winston Kidd held that the new law was vague, issued an injunction – which is a temporary hold – and set a hearing for July 8. This came about based upon a motion of the Hinds County District Attorney, Robert Schuler Smith.
The gist of the issue is that House Bill 2 redefined a concealed firearm. It removed from the definition of concealed a pistol in its holster that is wholly or partially visible. This change was common sense. HB 2 also deleted the statement ‘that nothing herein may be used to authorize open carry…‘ This language being deleted was significant in that this law now could be construed to allow open carry at least to the extent that it no longer prohibited open carry.
It is also interesting to note that the legislators that voted in favor of this law that are now saying they did not understand it, were actually provided with the old law with the proposed changes added in bold and the removed language with a line through it, so that you could still read what was being removed. Not understanding is an excuse.
A senator that voted in favor of the change and then came out publicly against it stated, “the interpretation is that by putting that change in the law you allow open carry, and we don’t believe that the constitution provides for open carry,” –John Horhn.
Decide for yourself. The Mississippi Constitution holds, in part;
The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons. Art. III, § 12 (enacted 1890, art. 3, § 12).
Open carry is not prohibited by the MS constitution in any fashion. The arguments that MS will turn into the “wild west” are overstated and speculative at best. The places that are posting “No Firearms” signs, I think, will regret it, as only the law-abiding folks will pay that any heed.
Ultimately, I predict the injunction will be dissolved and life will go on- with Open Carry.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney and implores you to not Open Carry just yet, and when you do upon the law being upheld, to Carry responsibly.
You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.