Gunning For Guns | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Gunning For Guns

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In a new war on guns in Jackson, Mayor Frank Melton said Sunday that he is preparing an executive order outlawing gun shows in the city limits of Jackson.

The mayor's renewed vigor to get unnecessary guns off the streets came after a harrowing Sunday night, April 2, when a 21-year-old Madison County man was killed in the Trustmark parking lot next to the Medical Mall. Calvin Johnson was shot by an assault weapon—perhaps an AK-47, said his twin, Kevin—during Sunday night cruising.

That night, while riding in the Mobile Command Center with the mayor right after the shooting, Kevin Johnson said that he and his twin had purchased 9mm guns the day before at the gun show at the fairgrounds. They were carrying them in their laps, he said. When Melton asked the young man, his shirt soaked with his brother's blood, why he was carrying a gun in his lap, he said, "To keep something like this from happening."

Kevin Johnson related a story of a packed parking lot of young people—many in their teens, 20s and 30s—driving, or "cruising," from one spot to another, showing off their vehicles and even their weapons—a night of cruising that began at Lake Hico and then moved from parking lot to parking lot in midtown Jackson. He said that people began firing their guns into the air in an apparent rush of adrenaline that turned deadly. Bullets ended up in at least four city vehicles parked in the Medical Mall parking lot and injured two other people hanging out there.

Police are still sorting out details of who shot whom and why—there is some belief that the murder of Johnson may not have been random—but Melton and Police Chief Shirlene Anderson now seem fixated on getting the guns off the streets.

"These young people don't need these guns," Melton said a week to the hour after the murder, himself heavily armed as he went on Sunday night rounds.

Much of the mayor's focus this Sunday was on searching cars for guns—and finding them. The entourage parked the RV at several different intersections—the longest at Northside and Bailey—and blocked traffic as they approached cars and asked if they could search the cars for weapons. Melton was accompanied by his dog, Abby—half German Shepherd, half Rottweiler—as he approached vehicles. In response to requests to search about two dozen vehicles, the mayor did not get a single "no," although many of the vehicle occupants looked very uncomfortable with the situation, while others seemed pleased by the mayor's actions.

And they found a number of guns—mostly semi-automatic handguns—but everyone of them "came up clean." That is, the guns were registered, and their owners had receipts for them. Thus, the guns were returned to their owners, put back in their laps, and all went on their way.

Anderson, who left the entourage for another "detail" near the scene of the previous week's murder, said when she returned to the Command Center at about 11 p.m. that she had, in fact, confiscated three or four illegal weapons, which were kept.

Melton said Sunday that he is joining Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes in an effort to keep gun shows out of Jackson. As seen with the Johnson twins, gun shows offer a way to buy firearms without the benefit of a 72-hour waiting period. You can buy a gun one day and be firing it into the air—or into a car—at the Medical Mall the next night.

"We have a problem," Melton said Tuesday. "I'm going to ban all guns shows from coming to Jackson. I'll cut the order this evening. I can do anything I want with an executive order. I don't need council approval."

This has long been a Stokes bandwagon. "We have got to do something about these gun shows," Stokes said at a City Council meeting in 2005. "It ain't fair that the state fairgrounds can bring these things here and deal guns to these thugs without any kind of waiting period or background check." He was out of town this week.

The Mississippi Legislature passed a law in 1986 stating that counties and municipalities may not adopt any ordinance restricting the possession, transportation, sale, transfer or ownership of firearms or ammunition. The law seems to forbid restrictions of the kind Melton has proposed.

This focus on getting guns, legal and illegal, out of Jackson is new for Melton. During his campaign, he said little about the proliferation of guns in Jackson, which was a rallying cry for both his predecessor and Police Chief Robert Moore, who complained that the state Legislature will not pass laws to make it easier for police to take guns from, say, 21 year olds cruising the city with Glocks in their laps.

"They've got such a strong gun lobby, and they're just strangling us to death in the urban communities," Moore said last year. "I've seen other folks leading gun battles all over the U.S., and we just continue to roll up against the same old obstacles."

The Americans for Gun Safety Foundation says the background-check system in Mississippi contains dangerous flaws. Mental health records are not included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), nor are domestic violence restraining orders. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gives Mississippi an "F" because the state has no carrying concealed-weapons law, no secondary private-sales background checks, no gun safety-lock requirements and no child-access prevention laws.

In addition, due to our lax gun restrictions and our rampant guns shows, Mississippi (along with Indiana) is one of the two biggest suppliers of guns used in street violence in other cities, such as Chicago. "You guys in Mississippi are really killing us with these guns—you and Indiana," Chicago Police Department spokesman Patrick Camden told the JFP last year.

But candidate Frank Melton said the state's gun laws are good enough already: "I say we just enforce the ordinances we have." Now, if the mayor gets his way, the city will soon be enforcing his no-gun-show order.

Additional reporting by Adam Lynch.

Previous Comments

ID
65888
Comment

Sigh. I won't even bother to respond to most of this because it would be pointless in this forum, but you may want to check some of your facts. "The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gives Mississippi an "F" because the state has no carrying concealed-weapons law," No great surprise given the quality of your source, but the statement that MS has no CC law is wrong. See Miss. Code Ann. 97-37-1 "Deadly weapons; carrying while concealed; use or attempt to use; penalties." For the law which likely prohibits what the Mayor proposes see § 45-9-51 Yawn, I would worry more about this, but so far Mayor Melton is 0 and 1 in the Courts and my money is on the NRA and friends. This should put the final nail in this debate. RNH.

Author
Niles Hooper
Date
2006-04-12T20:42:27-06:00
ID
65889
Comment

I think the interesting point here is that Melton WANTS to outlaw gun shows in Jackson. That should open up a spirited debate about why we need the damn things here in the first place. And don't bother to bypass the other points in the article -- why aren't restraining orders included in background checks in the check where more women are killed by men with guns than any other!?! And I don't give a damn what the NRA thinks about anything. Yawn.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-04-13T09:37:36-06:00
ID
65890
Comment

Didn't K Stokes try this a few years ago only to discover that the State fair Grounds are not part of Jackson?

Author
JLYerg
Date
2006-04-13T11:06:05-06:00
ID
65891
Comment

some gun shows are legitimate, others are just gun-hustlers and don't care iif they sell a hand grenade to a 12 yr. old. there needs to be guidelines and restrictions for gun purchases and sales at shows if they want to have shows in jackson, but don't shut them all the way down. some of us like to buy guns and go hunting and such. not to mention protect our property. I bought my last man-stopper from a gun show here in town. I'm a responsible gun owner though. that's the way it should be.

Author
JSU
Date
2006-04-13T11:26:53-06:00
ID
65892
Comment

1. There is no waiting period in Jackson or anywhere else in MS. 2. MS does have a law against carrying concealed as pointed out earlier. However your vehicle is considered and extension of your home so you can carry concealed in a vehicle without a permit. 3. There is NO gun registration in MS and you do not need a reciept to keep it in your vehicle. Now I love the article that quoted the reason people carried guns in Jackson was for "protection". Wow! I mean who would guess people carry guns to protect themselves in Jackson, MS of all places. Oh, wait, I would be one. I've carried for 4 years and would gladly let them search my vehicle for weapons. Even in Iraq the local nationals are allowed to keep 1 AK47 per household with 2 magazines for protection. Banning guns is not the answer. It will not work. It did not work in Chicago, it did not work in San Fransico, it did not work in England and it did not work in Australia

Author
nothing
Date
2006-04-13T23:37:50-06:00
ID
65893
Comment

Banning guns is not the answer. It will not work. It did not work in Chicago, it did not work in San Fransico, it did not work in England and it did not work in Australia -nothing And it won't work here either. I have always been an avid gun collector. I also believe that banning guns will fail because the problem lies within the gun owner. As JSU said that he is a responsible gun owner, so am I. That is a good starting point. The difference between a good mechanic and a parts changer is that a mechanic will will find out what the problem is and solve it while a parts changer will just get rid of everything that they think is bad. The parts changer will still encounter problems with no solutions in mind and soon he will be out of business. The mechanic will continue to gain customers because they have built a reputation for getting the job done right. IMO Frank needs to decipher this parable.

Author
lance
Date
2006-04-14T06:08:04-06:00
ID
65894
Comment

Please....save us from stupidity! Has Frank not heard the real saying, "Gun's don't kill people, People KILL PEOPLE"! Like many other's in the city, I have now taken to carrying my 9mm with me for protection when I am outside my home, and always keep it within a safe distance while inside. We have drive by's, we have murder's, we have break-in's, why wouldn't I have a weapon for protection? Oh, and let's not forget that we cannot get the crime report released either, that prevents us, as citizens from knowing where the majority of crime is being centered at this time also. My daddy started taking my sister and I as very young children to the shooting range, teaching us gun safety, how to clean and care for our weapon's and to become accurate in the use of it. I shot my first gun at 5 yrs old and cleaned it afterwards. I am responsible, however, when you have a city that obviously is in the downward slide of crime management, all responsible gun owners are going to become more apt to carry their own. Reality IS, the only real thing that is going to come from banning gun show's in Jackson is that law abiding citizen's are going to have a much harder time in the purchase of weapons, while those whom we should all be worried about carrying weapons, are going to continue to find ways to obtain that which they desire. I mean really people, has anyone ever seen the Wood Street Boys at the gun show filling out paperwork to obtain/purchase a weapon? For all the murders that Frank has continually tried to 'pin' on them, it would seem to me that they must go in force and purchase all the weapons that they can at the gun shows! THAT is not reality - however, the types of people Frank says have the weapons that are causing the problems in Jackson are still going to obtain them whether we have gun shows or not, or whether the laws are tougher or not!

Author
Katie D
Date
2006-04-14T07:19:30-06:00
ID
65895
Comment

Please....save us from stupidity! Has Frank not heard the real saying, "Gun's don't kill people, People KILL PEOPLE"! Like many other's in the city, I have now taken to carrying my 9mm with me for protection when I am outside my home, and always keep it within a safe distance while inside. We have drive by's, we have murder's, we have break-in's, why wouldn't I have a weapon for protection? Oh, and let's not forget that we cannot get the crime report released either, that prevents us, as citizens from knowing where the majority of crime is being centered at this time also. My daddy started taking my sister and I as very young children to the shooting range, teaching us gun safety, how to clean and care for our weapon's and to become accurate in the use of it. I shot my first gun at 5 yrs old and cleaned it afterwards. I am responsible, however, when you have a city that obviously is in the downward slide of crime management, all responsible gun owners are going to become more apt to carry their own. Reality IS, the only real thing that is going to come from banning gun show's in Jackson is that law abiding citizen's are going to have a much harder time in the purchase of weapons, while those whom we should all be worried about carrying weapons, are going to continue to find ways to obtain that which they desire. I mean really people, has anyone ever seen the Wood Street Boys at the gun show filling out paperwork to obtain/purchase a weapon? For all the murders that Frank has continually tried to 'pin' on them, it would seem to me that they must go in force and purchase all the weapons that they can at the gun shows! THAT is not reality - however, the types of people Frank says have the weapons that are causing the problems in Jackson are still going to obtain them whether we have gun shows or not, or whether the laws are tougher or not!

Author
Katie D
Date
2006-04-14T07:19:52-06:00
ID
65896
Comment

has anyone ever seen the Wood Street Boys at the gun show filling out paperwork to obtain/purchase a weapon? -Katie D Not even Frank can argue with this. Thinking back........I don't ever remember seeing or hearing of any of these WSP at the gun shows. Just imagine "hey Batman what do you think about this AR-15 assault rifle? Pretty neat isn't it? Katie, I hope that Marshall Ramsey reads the JFP so that he can do a cartoon about this. I believe that even I could do a cartoon about this one.

Author
lance
Date
2006-04-14T07:30:22-06:00
ID
65897
Comment

Sorry folks about the double-entry - my computer was being manipulated by a crafty chihuahua who felt that I needed assistance!

Author
Katie D
Date
2006-04-14T09:18:40-06:00
ID
65898
Comment

I find it hard to believe Frank is going after his bread & butter supporters. I suppose many of his right wing, pro-gun "clean up the trash" supporters all live outside Jackson.

Author
herman
Date
2006-04-14T09:51:35-06:00
ID
65899
Comment

He can't ban them at the fairgrounds, and arresting them outside the fairgrounds will just provoke another fight he'll lose. You know, Frankie, a better economy might help!

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-04-15T14:03:50-06:00
ID
65900
Comment

Ironghost - I'll most assuredly drink to that! (does iced tea count?) If Frank would spend more time worrying about the economy in Jackson and our budget concerns rather than running around like Wyatt Earp in a bullet proof vest, pretending he is a police officer - he might then be able to focus on his 'real' job that he was elected to do!

Author
Katie D
Date
2006-04-15T16:51:17-06:00
ID
65901
Comment

Iced Tea always counts, unless it's that mess without Sugar. ;) I think we can all agree Frank needs to spend more time looking like a Mayor and less like Police Chief.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-04-17T14:58:01-06:00
ID
65902
Comment

Guns and gun shows aren't the problem. It's a mentality that believes that violent retaliation is the only means to resolve conflicts. Its the lack of respect for life that causes some people to use guns as a means of gaining street cred and settling disputes, or having fun. That mentality has to be confronted and quashed. Outlawing gun shows and punishing law abiding gun collectors and sellers isn't the solution.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-04-19T00:05:49-06:00
ID
65903
Comment

WAPT follows up our gun-show story. BTW, did anyone here see The Clarion-Ledger report this? I think they meant to say "Frank Melton told the Jackson Free Press ..." back on April 12.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-05-22T21:02:27-06:00
ID
65904
Comment

I still don't think it'll work. Stopping gun shows isn't the fix he thinks it is. Stopping the violence is.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-05-23T08:34:29-06:00

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