Mississippi court finally decides that state constitution written in 1890 allows for open carry

At least they can’t be accused of a rush to judgment:

On July 1, 2013, Mississippi was set to clear up any ambiguity as to whether its Constitution of 1890 and statutes allowed the open (unconcealed) carry of a firearm or other deadly weapon without a permit. That was the plan, at least, until Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith and other Hinds County law enforcement officers, as well as several state Representatives who twice voted in favor of the bill, obtained a temporary restraining order the Friday evening before the law was to go into effect.

Following a hastily called hearing, Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd entered a temporary restraining order preventing the law from going into effect. The circuit court issued a permanent injunction a few days later on July 12, 2013. The circuit court found that the law, House Bill 2 of the 2013 Regular Session, was unconstitutionally vague when it defined “concealed” as “hidden or obscured from common observation … including, but not limited to, a loaded or unloaded pistol carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible, or carried upon the person in a scabbard or case for carrying the weapon that is wholly or partially visible.” The purpose of the amendment to was to clarify that a plainly visible, holstered weapon is not a concealed weapon for which a carry license is required.

An appeal by the Mississippi Attorney General quickly followed with several amicus briefs filed by Florida Carry, Inc., the National Rifle Association, a large contingent of the legislature, a group of concerned citizens and Governor Phil Bryant.

In an unanimous three page order [PDF] dated August 29, 2013, the Mississippi Supreme Court held—with very little explanation other than a sharp rebuke that the law was reasonably clear—that the circuit court of Hinds County erred as a matter of law when it held House Bill 2 unconstitutionally vague and therefore unenforceable. Some legal commentators have described the circuit court’s argument as “silly” and the three page reversal in an unpublished order a clear signal that the court did not view the proceedings favorably.

Thus, effective July 1, 2013, it is legal for a person not otherwise prohibited from owning or carrying a deadly weapon to openly carry such a weapon without a permit.

Predictably, fear-mongering opponents have trotted out the “it will turn the state into the Wild West” canard.

Presumably, these critics think of the Wild West as a current event.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET