Was William Brown an Open-Carry Casualty? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Was William Brown an Open-Carry Casualty?

William Brown’s wife, DeUndra, believes her husband was victimized twice—once at the hands of his killer and again by a state law that allows people to carry guns openly.

William Brown’s wife, DeUndra, believes her husband was victimized twice—once at the hands of his killer and again by a state law that allows people to carry guns openly. Photo by Trip Burns

After quarrelling with a man the night of Sept. 20, William Brown was convinced that the man and his brothers would try to kill him. Brown, who went by the nickname "Nod," even told his wife that he thought the brother's family was gunning for him.

A day later, just after 5 p.m., Brown proved fatally prophetic when, near the intersection of Doctor Moton Street and Smith Robinson Road in the Virden Addition neighborhood, the brother of the man Brown beefed with the night before shot him 12 times.

Police took the shooter, who did not flee the scene, into custody and after questioning him, let him go in time to attend a concert at a local nightclub, Brown's family members said.

"I'm at a loss for words because the guy who shot my husband gets to go free. He shot my husband 12 times. I don't see that as self-defense," Nod's wife, DeUndra Brown, told the Jackson Free Press last week.

Almost as unsettling is her belief that one reason police declined to charge the shooter was because both men were allowed to have guns, according to an open-carry law the Legislature passed this year. After a brief court battle, the law took effect in August.

DeUndra Brown, who returned from military training three weeks before her husband's death and was not aware of the HB2's passage until her husband's death, believes the law is making it easier for people to kill each other instead of serving as a deterrent to crime.

"They think the crime is going to decrease now?" she asked. "I just see more death occurring in the future."

William Brown's death appears to give credence to fears that local law-enforcement officials expressed when they filed a lawsuit to prevent the controversial law, HB 2, from going into effect.

"It's difficult to determine who is a threat, and (who) isn't a threat," Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said just before the law's planned effective date of July 1. Calls to Smith and JPD's Deputy Chief Deric Hearn, with whom Brown has been in communication about her husband's death investigation, were not returned for this story.

Smith, along with JPD and the Hinds County Sheriff's office, joined in a lawsuit that met brief success when Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd enjoined the gun law that state Attorney General Jim Hood admitted would "be pretty tricky for cops on the street" to enforce. The state Supreme Court overturned Kidd's decision, allowing the law's implementation to go forward.

DeUndra Brown suspects the law may also have the effect of giving police an excuse to not investigate crimes that are more complicated to untangle. JPD has said William Brown's death remains under investigation, but at the time of the shooting, JPD Assistant Chief Lee Vance told a TV reporter that police did not make an arrest because witnesses said Brown initiated a gun battle.

"He shot at the other guy first. Apparently he missed, then the other guy returned fire striking him about 12 times. It's not for me to judge the amount of rounds that were fired. I don't know if the amount of times he fired his weapon is of any circumstance at this point," Vance told WLBT-TV's Cheryl Lasseter.

Matt Steffey, a professor of constitutional law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, explained that although police and district attorneys have a lot of discretion in terms of whether to arrest or charge people with crimes, in all deliberate shootings a prima facie case for assault exists or, if the victim dies, for homicide.

"(If) I pick up a gun and shoot you, even in self defense, I have met the elements of intentional homicide," Steffey said.

DeUndra Brown describes her husband as a fun guy who loved being a father to his 16-month-old daughter and 11-year-old son and mentoring neighborhood kids on how to break into the music industry.

She believes that if a witness to her husband's shooting contacts JPD and tells police what they say, it might move the investigation along and help bring the shooter to justice.

"It hurts me that nobody in that neighborhood will speak up. He would have done anything for them," she said.

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speedyrev 8 years, 7 months ago

The answer to your question is, "no." He was a casualty of taking a shot at someone else. If open carry was a no-no, do you really think either of these men would have decided to leave their gun at home?


blackwatch 8 years, 7 months ago

My deepest sympathy to the Brown family, there is now a wife and a child that has lost a loved husband and father . My question is what does the open carry law solve? One of the ways to curb the senseless violence we see taking too many young black lives is to teach conflict resolution techniques, one of which is to de-escalate situations through active engagement in dialog. More people openly carrying guns does not invite dialog, nor de-escalation of potentially tragic conflicts.

These open carry laws were not concieved to curb violence, but to warrant gun purchases for people who want to use violence as a solution to issues of higher propoerty crime and assaults, which , in these urban centers, are by-products of concentrated poverty. True, an open carry law probably won't encourage many young black men to be more responsible gun owners, but what it can do is make policing harder by discouraging investigations into how people are obtaining guns that lead to these senseless deaths. It also makes it easier to cry "self-defense" if the fear is that anyone could be open carrying a gun. I just do not see what problem an open carry law would solve.


NMGliderPilot 8 years, 7 months ago

I feel sorry for the lady, but if her husband hadn't been a thief/criminal, he'd still be with her today. Open Carry protects US from THEM (the crooks!) and does deter the thugs from preying on the innocent! I think everyone should carry and that will keep the miscreants from harming law-abiding folk!


SinEater 8 years, 7 months ago

My heart goes out to the woman and her family. But the facts are plain. The article states that her husband was the aggressor. He shot first. The other guy shot multiple times but there was no reasonable suspicion of his having engaged in a criminal act. In the absence of open carry this would have been a simple case of self defense. In the presence of open carry, this is STILL a simple case of self defense. If you live by the sword you die by the sword. And the purpose of carry laws is so that people can defend themselves. That is all. There is no higher purpose to carry laws. Carry laws will not fix societal issues; they merely give people a better ability to defend themselves. The purpose is NOT to suddenly overcome decades of people killing one another over real or imagined beefs. If you want to cut down on violence then stop beefing and put the people who constantly beef and criminals in jail until they wise up or die of old age.


darryl 8 years, 7 months ago

A. Sounds like sloppy work by JPD at the outset. B. Were either of the participants using firearms they bought and, therefore, registered? If so, then good. If not then shame on JPD again. C. If Mr. Brown did, indeed, take the first shot and got killed as a result, then he is not an "open carry" casualty. He is a casualty because he exercised poor judgment and got killed for it by someone with better aim. I promise you that if you clear leather on me and miss...woe unto you because it's gonna come back and I will keep firing until you breathe no more. Justifiable self-defense.


bubbat 8 years, 7 months ago

  1. No one was reported to be open carrying
  2. Brown was the aggressor he shot first, he's not a victim
  3. Man who shoot Brown had the legal right to defend himself with deadly force.
  4. The JFP with their usual anti- gun agenda is trying to make something out of nothing by even suggesting this self defense shooting had to anything with open carry.

No Brown wasn't an Open-Carry Casualty, he was a casualty of his on stupidity by shooting at someone in the first place.


speedyrev 8 years, 7 months ago

Darryl may have been over the top in tone, but I agree with what he said.

A mocking, condescending reply doesn't help the conversation.


George 8 years, 7 months ago

Nothing about this has anything to do with 'open carry'. He tried to kill someone else and is dead now. Would he be less dead if they had been carrying concealed?

Let's see if I've got the broad strokes: he had an ongoing argument, he decided to carry a gun, he shot at someone else and missed. The intended target drew his own pistol and ended the threat. He did not flee the scene, he waited until emergency services arrived. Upon initial interview, the police did not see probable cause to arrest or have reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed.

I'm not really sure why Ms Brown "believes that if a witness to her husband's shooting contacts JPD and tells police what they say, it might move the investigation along and help bring the shooter to justice." especially since "police did not make an arrest because witnesses said Brown initiated a gun battle."


William 8 years, 7 months ago

Open carry does indeed deter aggression. When being armed was socially acceptable, people were polite, knowing that aggression could be fatal. When we started curtailing 2nd amendment rights and using peer pressure to prevent open carry, followed by criminalizing and violating the constitution, then only the criminals continued to carry, and manner faded. In this case, Mr. Brown deserved exactly what he got. He started a fight, the other party finished it. The widow, understandably, is upset, but she's also wrong to blame the open-carry law. There's no evidence in this poorly-written charade of an article to indicate that Brown knew or complied with the law, and the fact that the man who slew Brown is free indicates that this is a pretty clear case of self-defense. Mr. Steffey is clearly thinking politically. Constitutionally, open carry is simply complying with the highest law in the land, and self-defense should never trigger an automatic arrest. His ideas are simply the leftist dodge to place the blame on someone other than the criminal who fired first. Donna Ladd, Darryl is quite correct. His tone is perhaps a bit more aggressive than it needs to be, but your criticism is unfounded. Blackwatch, you are simply wrong. I grew up in Colorado, where open carry was always legal. Police harassed anyone open carrying, which reinforced what we were taught, to consider carrying a responsibility. When you know that the fact you have a gun means that passive-aggressive people will hate and fear you, and will try to blame you for any incident, contrive to spin any argument to make the carrier the aggressor, you tend to be more polite and diplomatic, and to avoid confrontation. Now thugs and other criminals, who carry to feel "hard", won't. But they also don't comply with any carry laws in their jurisdiction, either. R.L. Nave, this fluff piece is not journalism. It's rank opinion and amateur infotainment , not news. Do some research and present facts next time.


ludwig 8 years, 7 months ago

Open carry has been on the books since forever in Mississippi. People do not even know the law anymore. Shoot at me, I will shoot back. Plain and simple, so don't shoot at me.


wizard8575 8 years, 7 months ago

Why wont this reporter actually list the facts he left out! How about the fact that this woman's husband and the other man were both illegally conceal carrying their weapons????


Rogue 8 years, 7 months ago

It is always a tragedy to see children lose their father and my heart goes out to these children. Words cannot express their loss. That said, I would like to respond to the question of was William Brown a casualty to open carry? Honestly I don't believe that question can be answered with the small amount of information given here. To answer that we would have to know that the only reason he had a gun that night was because of open carry and that if not for open carry he would NOT have been armed. Only William knew that for sure so the answer will not be found here. I can however tell you who is not a casualty of open carry here. The other man involved. Because of open carry he is not in jail for defending himself. Had this happened before Mississippi's open carry law was finally clarified this man would most likely be in jail for the simple act of defending his life. William shot at him first; as is reported here; had the other man not had a gun he would most likely be dead. If he had a gun before open carry he would most likely be in jail. Open carry gave him an opportunity to protect himself from the deadly force being used against him. Open carry saved one man's life that day; either from death or imprisonment.


ryannave 8 years, 7 months ago

Wizard: Since neither I nor Mrs. Brown witnessed the shooting, I don't have any information on whether Mr. Brown or his shooter were carrying guns legally or illegally at the time of the altercation. If you witnessed the events or have additional insights, feel free to contact me. Thanks. -- RL


sundog50 8 years, 7 months ago

Plain bias without regard to facts:
""I'm at a loss for words because the guy who shot my husband gets to go free. He shot my husband 12 times. I don't see that as self-defense,""

Her husband fired the first shot, he was the aggressor in this case. If he shot at me I'd shoot enough to make sure he wasn't going to shoot any more.


rmfixitman 8 years, 7 months ago

The open carry law takes us back to the days of may the fastest gun win.now if you have a dispute with someone just take it to the streets and may the fastest gun win.


js1976 8 years, 7 months ago

"The open carry law takes us back to the days of may the fastest gun win.now if you have a dispute with someone just take it to the streets and may the fastest gun win."

Do you feel as if most disputes are handled like this throughout the majority of our nation? Since more than half of our states allow open carry, everyone must be getting gunned down in the streets like in old western movies.


bill_jackson 8 years, 7 months ago

I seriously have my doubts as to whether either of the parties involved were open carrying. And if the ladies spouse fired the first shot then the other gentleman was well within his rights to defend himself.

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