By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
JACKSON – A state judge blocked Mississippi’s open-carry gun law from taking effect next week, writing in a Friday ruling that the law was vague and that an injunction was needed to prevent irreparable harm.
Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd scheduled a hearing July 8 to consider more arguments about whether to extend the injunction.
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith requested that the law be blocked, and Kidd granted the temporary injunction during an emergency hearing.
House Bill 2 clarifies that people in Mississippi don’t need any kind of state-issued permit to carry a gun that’s not concealed.
The bill’s main sponsor, Republican Rep. Andy Gipson, of Braxton, said the law simply restates the state constitution’s right to bear arms. But some sheriffs and police chiefs worry people could become trigger-happy and hurt civilians or law-enforcement officers.
“I never thought I’d live to see a lawsuit filed to say that the Constitution is unconstitutional, which is basically what they’re saying,” Gipson told The Associated Press after the judge’s ruling. “I’m confident that in the end, our Second Amendment rights will be upheld.”
The attorney general’s office defended the law, saying the challenge came too late.
Jody Owens, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said those seeking to block the law are trying to stop mayhem.
“The plaintiffs are trying to stop mayhem. We’re looking at a wild, wild West scenario,” Owens said.
Attorney General Jim Hood issued a nonbinding legal opinion June 13 saying guns would still be banned on school and college campuses, and that law-enforcement officers could ban the open carry of guns in courthouses and other public buildings. Hood also said people would still be able to ban weapons on private property.