Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba announced a temporary ban on the open carrying of firearms in the city over the weekend, and he’s already feeling the heat from some of the state’s top officials in response.

Lumumba says that continued crime in Jackson led him to take the stand, though this appears to be driven by publicity rather than public safety. The Democrat mayor proclaimed that his order will only last for a week, and used his announcement to call for a permanent end to open carry in the state. From Y’all Politics:

If we are sincere in our hope for better outcomes and a brighter future for our youth, we must be moved to action. It is this call to action that has led to my decision to issue an Executive Order suspending Open Carry law during the Covid-19 civil emergency. Under State Statutes 45-17-7(e), I am given the discretion in the interest of public safety and welfare to issue such orders that are necessary for the protection of life and property.

In this moment of great distress and economic tension it is important that we eliminate the ability for illegal weapons to inflict irreparable harm on our City. I want to make it clear that I have no principal disagreement with the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but all rights must be balanced by reasonable regulations.  A right that protects illegal guns and puts more people in fear, a right that escalates conflict beyond a point of resolution, and a right that interferes with another person’s right to live is not a legitimate right to be maintained.

Your right to swing ends at my nose.

While this order will only be in effect for a short period of time, I am calling on all Jackson residents, and all state and local leaders to act in the interest of our innocent children. Repeal the Open Carry law which makes it impossible for law enforcement to root out illegal firearms on our streets.

It sounds to me like Lumumba is trying to use the state of emergency to make a political point rather than trying to save lives, and he’s on dubious legal ground in doing so. Mississippi’s Attorney General has already objected to the mayor’s actions on Twitter, and we may see a lawsuit filed over the open carry ban in the next couple of days.

Lumumba is basing his decision on the state’s emergency powers laws, which say nothing about banning the carrying of firearms.

  • After proclamation of a civil emergency, the chief administrative officer may at his discretion, in the interest of public safety and welfare:
  • (a) Order the closing of all retail liquor stores.
  • (b) Order the discontinuance of the sale of intoxicating liquor and/or beer.
  • (c) Order the discontinuance of the manufacture, transfer, use, possession or transportation of a Molotov cocktail or any other device, instrument or object designed to explode or produce uncontained combustion.
  • (d) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of any firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever.
  • (e) Issue such other orders as are necessary for the protection of life and property.

Oddly enough, it appears Lumumba could have ordered gun stores closed under Mississippi law, but banning the carrying of firearms, either openly or concealed, would appear to be a bridge too far. The mayor claims that the portion of the statute allowing him to issue orders “necessary for the protection of life and property” gives him the authority to ban the open carrying of firearms, but if he’s sued he would have to show in court that the order is necessary, not just a politically motivated act designed to generate headlines.

I suspect that those responsible for the shootings in Jackson over the past week weren’t legal gun owners, and therefore weren’t lawfully carrying the firearms used to commit violent crimes. I also suspect that criminals who are wantonly shooting on city streets don’t care about the mayor’s ban on open carry, since they’ve also ignored the laws about not shooting people except in self-defense.

Lumumba’s actions are likely to be challenged in court, though if his ban really does expire in a week the residents of Jackson may be back to openly carrying firearms long before any lawsuit is decided by a judge. In the meantime, the people of Jackson, Mississippi can rest uneasy, knowing their mayor is putting politics ahead of their constitutional rights and their personal safety.