Well, it looks like law-abiding Mississippians are going to have to wait a little longer before they can openly carry a firearm without a permit in the Magnolia State.
On Friday, Hinds County Judge Winston Kidd put a permanent hold on House Bill 2, Mississippi’s open carry law, ruling that it was “without question, unconstitutionally vague.”
Late last month, Judge Kidd granted a temporary injunction on the law, citing concerns about the laws clarity and now, upon further review and discussion at a recent hearing, has decided to block it from taking effect until the state Legislature can address the alleged confusion the bill seems to be causing during the next legislative session.
“Law enforcement officials will be required to enforce a vague law which will result in either the law enforcement officer’s life being at risk or the general public’s life being at risk,” Kidd wrote in his ruling. “The court cannot identify any potential harm which might be caused to the state by granting the injunction.”
Critics of the law, those who filed for the injunction, claim that the way concealed and open carry are defined is ambiguous.
Judge Kidd agreed with that analysis but also took it one step further, saying that “House Bill 2 does more than define ‘concealed.’ It creates confusion and chaos with respect to the enforcement of gun laws here in this state.”
He added that “A reasonable person reading the bill can not discern what the law allows and what it prohibits.”
Yet, as noted in previous Guns.com articles, the law is not all that vexing. House Bill 2 simply states that a pistol carried in a holster that is either wholly or partially visible is not concealed carry. Thus, it’s considered open carry. If one is a law-abiding citizen, he/she can openly carry a firearm without a permit. If he/she wants to fully conceal a firearm, he/she needs a concealed carry license.
Supporters of the law, and there are many of them, e.g. HB 2 cleared the state House 111-8 and the state Senate 51-0, are disappointed with the ruling but are optimistic that law will eventually take effect.
Gov. Bryant, who enthusiastically signed the bill into law on March 4, voiced frustration with the ruling but said that Attorney General Jim Hood will appeal Judge Kidd’s ruling to the state Supreme Court, where it will likely be struck down.
“Gov. Bryant continues to believe that the Mississippi Constitution affirms the right of citizens to keep and bear arms as described in House Bill 2,” Bryant spokeswoman Nicole Roberts told the Associated Press on Friday.
“This bill was passed overwhelmingly by the Mississippi Legislature, and it is disappointing that a judge could essentially overthrow the will of an entire elected body,” she added.
Though opponents of HB 2 said that they will be ready for a fight before Mississippi’s Supreme court.
“We’re preparing for the battle before the Mississippi Supreme Court,” Attorney Linda Ross, the attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, said in an email to The Associated Press.
“We hope that Mississippi’s highest court will agree with Judge Kidd that House Bill 2 is unconstitutionally vague and that every person does not have the right to carry guns anytime, anywhere for any reason in Mississippi.”
One quick thought…
In hindsight, which is always 20/20, lawmakers should have just passed a Constitutional-carry or permit-less carry law for open and concealed firearms. Then there would have been no clarity issues with respect to the definitions of open vs. concealed.
Bottom line, if you’re a law-abiding citizen you have the Constitutional right to keep and bear (carry, open or concealed) arms. That should be the law. Period. End of story.