Hood urges quick action by Supreme Court on gun law

By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Attorney General Jim Hood has filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to block immediately the ruling by a Hinds County circuit judge preventing the enactment of a state law clarifying the rights of Mississippians to openly carry a weapon.

“Each day that House Bill 2 remains enjoined (blocked from enactment) irreparably harms the state of Mississippi by denying the citizens of the benefit of policies deemed to be in the best interest of the state by the Legislature,” the AG’s office said in a motion filed late Monday.

Hood’s office is asking the court to block immediately Hinds Court Judge Winton Kidd’s ruling earlier this month stopping the enactment of the law passed during the 2013 session clarifying that Mississippi is an open carry state for weapons.

Hood said recently that if the state’s high court does not rule in an expedited manner, as he requested, that it could be more than a year before the issue is settled. If the court grants Hood’s motion, the Democratic AG said the issue could be settled within a month.

Kidd ruled the law “is unconstitutionally vague and shall not take effect until such time as the Mississippi Legislature reviews, amends or clarifies” it. Kidd said its enactment would create chaos.

Kidd said in his ruling that, if people were carrying openly with no permit, it would be difficult for law enforcement to determine whether they were prevented from owning gun for other reasons, such as being a convicted felon.

In his motion to the Supreme Court, Hood argued the law is not vague, but simply defines concealed carry, which requires a permit, and clarifies that open carry does not require a permit. The author of the bill, Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, maintains that the state’s 1890s Constitution always has allowed open carry with no permit.

“Plaintiffs are merely disguising their policy disagreement in an ill-fitting constitutional doctrine,”says the attorney general’s appeal.

Hood has maintained that law enforcement outside of Hinds County would not be bound by Kidd’s ruling, but said Supreme Court clarification to eliminate confusion is still needed.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com