Jackson's civic leaders have watched the gun debate unfold since Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 2 into law, effectively making the "open carry" of guns legal.
Photo by Courtesy Flickr/Mrbill
Jackson's civic leaders have watched the gun debate unfold since Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 2 into law, effectively making the "open carry" of guns legal. Now, they've turned the proverbial TV off and are working to fix their own problems.
Before the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled yesterday to overturn Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd's injunction, which temporarily stopped the controversial law from taking effect, Jackson City Council President Charles Tillman had already introduced an ordinance that would ban weapons from a long list of public places in the capital city.
The proposed ordinance would ban guns and knives (with an exception for law enforcement officers) from municipal property, such as City Hall, public parks, playgrounds, gyms, recreational facilities and fields the city maintains; meeting places where public meetings of a county, municipality or other governmental body takes place; all political rallies, parades, and official political meetings; and all non-firearm-related school, college or professional athletic events.
"Since the Legislature passed the law, there's been a lot of concern out in our community," Tillman said. "There's even concern among the people who serve the public, so we just want to clarify some things and make sure, as a city, that we are taking our own look at how we handle public safety."
Passed during the last legislative session, House Bill 2 states that individuals need not obtain a state permit to openly carry weapons. A permit would only be necessary to carry concealed weapons, under the law.
HB 2's sponsor, Republican Rep. Andy Gipson of Braxton, said state law already permits open-carry. He cites Section 12 of the Mississippi Constitution, which states that except for legislative regulations on carrying concealed weapons "the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person or property ... shall not be called in question."
Gipson told reporters in April he doubts that his bill will result in more gun-toting citizens.
"Mississippians have more discretion than that," Gipson said.
The Magnolia State already has some of the most lax gun laws in the country. The state does not require background checks for transferring guns between private owners or require permits or registration for most gun owners. Mississippi practically leads the nation in gun deaths, ranking No. 2 in a 2010 analysis of gun deaths nationwide by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center. Mississippi sees 6.9 gun murders for every 100,000 people, nearly double the U.S. average of 3.6.