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Open Carry Law Remains On Hold

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 09 Jul 2013 09:51am | comments

A new law allowing Mississippians to openly carry weapons without a state permit remains on hold today. A judge in Hinds County has extended a block on the law through Friday. Some are concerned that the law will turn Mississippi into the wild west.

 Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd heard arguments about the constitutionality of House bill 2, known as the open carry law, in Jackson yesterday.

 The law says adults don't need a state-issued permit to carry a gun that is not concealed

 Lisa Ross, an attorney representing those who filed to stop the law, warned that it will lead to a proliferation of violence and danger that will spread beyond hand-guns.

 "People will just go into a frenzy if they walk out on the streets. The 911 dispatchers will be inundated if we allow people to walk around with bombs and hand grenades. And if that becomes the law, your honor, we are going to see people walking around with hand grenades," Ross said.

 Defenders of the law dismiss these concerns as over-blown.

 Assistant Attorney General Harold Pizzetta says enough other laws exist that will keep keep guns out of the hands of criminals, whether they are open or concealed.

 "If that person trespasses on your property, they have violated criminal and civil trespass laws and can be arrested. If that person brandishes a weapon, we have laws that make it a crime to exhibit a weapon in a threatening manor," Pizzetta said.

 The judge continued his block on the law until Friday so he can write an opinion about it.

 A small crowd filled the courtroom to listen to the arguments, including Raj Verma who says he is worried about the safety of the employees at his two gas stations.

 "I am a business owner so I am here because I am concerned about this law. We are the business owners that manage the business from morning to late night. So I am concerned about the security of myself, my workers and other businesses," Verma said.

 The law sailed through the legislature this year with overwhelming margins of support and was signed by Governor Phil Bryant.

 Senator Giles Ward of Louisville carried the bill through the Senate.

 "I have good faith in the citizens of the state of Mississippi who have not, under the same constitution since 1890, have not gone out into the streets and started fighting each other publicly with weapons," Ward said.

 A core of Democratic law makers has sounded the alarm about the law and say they will meet with the Governor tomorrow to urge him to call a special session to address their concerns.

 If there is no special session, the opponents of the law say they plan to bring the issue back up in the 20-14 regular session.





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