When Jackson, Mississippi mayor Chockwe A. Lumumba instituted a temporary ban on the open carrying of firearms in the city back in April, he claimed it the move was both constitutional and necessary to stem rising violence on city streets. Lumumba believed that the state of emergency in Mississippi empowered him to enforce the week-long ban, even though the state’s Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney in Mississippi both publicly declared that Lumumba’s gun ban had no basis in state law.
Now a federal judge has weighed in, and he too says Lumumba overstepped his authority in banning open carry within the city limits. From the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson:
The Mississippi Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal center, filed the lawsuit on behalf of state Rep. Dana Criswell, R-Olive Branch. Criswell is a federal licensed firearms dealer and proponent of open carry laws in the state.
Attorneys for the mayor and the Jackson City Council on Friday agreed to the terms of a consent decree to never attempt to restrict open carry again. A consent decree is an agreement between two parties issued by a judge instead of continuing the case in court.
“I am very glad to know that this will never happen again in the future. Mississippians should be able to protect themselves no matter what city they are in,” said Criswell in a news release.
So not only did Lumumba’s carry ban get struck down, he’s agreed to never again try to restrict the open carrying of firearms. I’m actually somewhat surprised that the mayor isn’t continuing his fight, given that just a few weeks ago he was still defending his order to local media.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba says he is a proud gun owner and his ban on the open carry law during a civil emergency was never about law abiding gun owners…
“I do not apologize for being concerned for Jackson residents. I do not apologize for being moved not only emotionally but moved to action as it related to children’s lives that were cut short far too quickly”, Mayor Lumumba said.
I don’t think anyone wants an apology from the mayor for being concerned about the public safety of Jackson residents, but an apology for trying to suspend the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners in the name of public safety would be good to see.
Jackson, Mississippi has a gang problem, not a gun problem, and in order to stem the violence Mayor Lumumba is going to have to focus on the relatively small number of people in his city that are actually driving the violence. His open carry ban was never going to do that. If there are gang members who are walking around open carrying firearms (and I’m still not convinced that’s the case) they’re not going to stop just because the mayor says they can’t. Most likely, they’d simply start concealing their firearms and continue shooting up neighborhoods, even when they murder children with their errant shots. I encourage Mayor Lumumba to seriously tackle the violent crime plaguing his city, but he needs to develop strategies that are both effective and constitutional, instead of an ill-conceived and illegal ban on the open carrying of firearms.