Mississippi City Slaps Surprise Fee On Gun Show Vendors

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The politicians in charge of Jackson, Mississippi have their hostility towards the Second Amendment abundantly clear over the past year. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba tried to impose a ban on openly carried firearms last year, claiming the state’s emergency powers provisions gave him the authority to do so, but a federal judge smacked down the ban shortly after it was imposed. Since then, there’s been a lot of finger-pointing from the mayor, city council, and local police on who’s to blame for the rise in violent crime. The Jackson Police Department recently told council members that officers are being forced to engage in “catch-and-release” arrests because the local jail is too full.

Asst. Chief Deputy Joseph Wade spoke on behalf of the Jackson Police Department, saying that his officers’ hands are tied when it comes to addressing crime in the city.

 

One of the biggest factors hurting the department’s efforts is the lack of jail space.

 

“The criminals know there is nowhere to put them,” he said. “Our officers have to field release 80 to 90 percent of the people they come in contact with.

 

“Threatening to take people to jail is like a dog barking with no teeth.”

That sounds like a problem for the city council and mayor to address, doesn’t it? Instead, it seems like the city is still focused on those exercising their Second Amendment rights; most recently at a gun show in Jackson.

One by one the Jackson Fire Department marshals made their way to each booth at the Capital City Gun Show, issuing $50 permits.

 

Division Chief Elliot Holmes says they were well within their boundaries by International Fire Code when they began the collection at the Wahabi Shriners Temple over the weekend. They just hadn’t ever enforced that particular code at a gun show before.

 

“This is the first time that we ever did this at a gun show. It’s the start of something just different from here on out that we would be assessing each vendor,” said Holmes. “Any event to be honest, to obtain a fire inspection permit. Not just a gun show.”

 

They called organizer Dave Chancellor on Thursday to let him know they were coming.

 

“I asked him why can’t we get notification this time and next time we’ll be more prepared for it because you’ve caught me off guard and I‘m not able to notify the vendors what’s about to take place until they arrive on Friday,” Chancellor said.

As WLBT’s Therese Apel reports, the surprise fees not only took vendors off guard, but left them with a lot of questions.

Wade Hanks is retired now, but he served as a a gun show promoter for most of his life. He says he’s never seen anything like what happened over the weekend.

 

He called the move “a scam” on the part of the city, because he said he didn’t see anyone keeping names or giving receipts for cash outside of the permit with each vendor’s handwritten name.

 

“I was handed a fire inspection permit for $50. The man never took any kind of contact info on me. He has no record who he sold the permits to,” he said.

Perhaps the mayor and the city council had nothing to do with this, but I’d be very curious to see what a Freedom of Information Act request might turn up. Given the hostility displayed towards legal gun owners and the right to keep and bear arms, it’s only natural to be skeptical about the motives of the fire marshals, especially since a fee like this has never been collected before.

The city of Jackson won’t get a handle on its violent crime by trying to make life harder for legal gun owners and sellers. Mayor Lumumba and his colleagues on the city council need to get back to basics, starting with ensuring that those arrested for criminal activity aren’t simply cited and released because the city’s jails are full. If criminals don’t face consequences for their actions, we can’t be surprised if they feel emboldened to continue. And with crime rising, more Jacksonians are going to embrace their right to keep and bear arms. By focusing on gun owners and guns themselves instead of violent criminals, the city’s leaders are not only failing to address the real issue but may very well be partly responsible for the local increase in gun sales.

Dec 08, 2021 12:30 PM ET