Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba is still facing a federal lawsuit over his attempt to ban the open carrying of firearms in the city during the coronavirus-related state of emergency, and the mayor told a local TV station over the weekend that he believes the lawsuit will soon be resolved without “any financial burden to the city.”
According to WLBT, Lumumba still claims that the ban, which was rejected by the Jackson City Council, the Mississippi Attorney General, the local U.S. Attorney, and several lawmakers, wasn’t aimed at legal gun owners, but was instead meant to give law enforcement a tool to crack down on violent criminals.
Mayor Lumumba said, “day after day I’m getting calls from residents talking about people shooting guns up in the air in their neighborhoods. People hearing gunshots continuously.”
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.
Mayor Lumumba said, “since 2013 when many of the open carry laws were introduced, childhood deaths by firearm increased by 72% in the South. And so we need to dive into that and we need to care enough to figure out why that is happening and make the changes.”
Jackson police were able to confiscate dozens of illegal weapons in the last few weeks. Many of them in the possession of convicted felons.
I have no idea where the mayor pulled that statistic from, but I’ll take Lumumba at his word that he’s trying to reduce violent crime in Jackson. Too bad for the mayor that his reasons for the ban don’t justify his unconstitutional actions. The mayor simply doesn’t have the authority under Mississippi state law to enact any type of ban on the carrying of firearms, even in a state of emergency, and while Lumumba is telling the press that the city is likely to prevail in the lawsuit, there’s not much evidence to back up his claims.
There is an easy step for Lumumba to take that would reduce violent crime while respecting the Second Amendment rights of residents and visitors to Jackson. The mayor says that many firearms seized over the past few weeks were in the hands of convicted felons. The city should work with the local District Attorney to refer the most serious of these cases to the U.S. Attorney for federal prosecution. That would send a real message to the gang members and drug dealers fueling the violence in Jackson’s high-crime neighborhoods, while also removing the most prolific offenders from the streets for as long as possible. If Lumumba is serious about making Jackson a safer place, his focus needs to be on fighting criminals, not waging a legal battle against the constitutional rights of Mississippians.