Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s unilateral decision to suspend open carry in the city during his declared state of emergency isn’t winning him many friends. The state’s attorney general has warned the mayor that his actions are illegal, a federal lawsuit has been filed, and even Lumumba’s colleagues on the Jackson City Council want nothing to do with the ban.
The mayor addressed council members on Tuesday, hoping to see them get behind his ban. Instead, the council voted 6-0 to support a resolution opposing the mayor’s open carry ban, warning that Lumumba’s edict will lead to expensive litigation and was done without consulting any council members.
Ward 4 Councilman De’Keither Stamps, and other council members at the meeting, said they shared the mayor’s concern over gun violence in the city, but feared an expensive, possibly insurmountable legal battle ahead.
“We share the pain. We’re all deeply hurt by these folks that have been killed. But we gotta separate that from the legal pain we’re going to feel if we follow through on this,” Stamps said.
“I’m in favor of anything we need to do to lower crime in Jackson, but this is a legal issue for the city,” said Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks.
“All of us have been touched by this scourge of violence, but we’ve got to work as one body and under the requirements of the U.S. and Mississippi state constitution and Mississippi state law,” said Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester.
Stamps and Priester also said they believed the mayor should have consulted the council first with such a broad order.
“A decision of this magnitude should be considered by the council,” Stamps said.
“There was no input from the council,” echoed Priester.
Lumumba personally appealed to the council during the meeting, describing the recent murder of 5-year old Queenyanna Davis in the city and telling members that he’d “rather be wrong for the right reasons than right for the wrong reasons.”
Here’s an option: what about being right for the right reasons? Nobody wants to see gang violence, but flagrantly flouting the state’s constitution and imposing an illegal ban on open carrying won’t do anything to stop it. Instead, Lumumba needs to be focused on the small number of Jackson residents who are responsible for driving the gang violence in his city. A good and legal way to do this would be to implement a Project Ceasefire-style program in the city to identify Jackson’s most likely offenders, offer them a way out if they’re willing to take it, and deliver swift and sure justice if they refuse to stop shooting.
Instead, Lumumba is doubling down on his stunt, which is garnering plenty of headlines but won’t save any lives. I reached out to the mayor’s office on Tuesday afternoon inviting him to join me on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to discuss his open carry ban, and hopefully Lumumba will accept. If he’s serious about making Jackson a safer place, I know how the city can make it happen without trying to impose a single new gun control law or violating people’s constitutional rights.