State and Local Legal Blog

House Bill 2, Judge Kidd and packing heat | August 2, 2013

 

                This summer, we have not only the 100 degree temperature and 90% humidity days to worry about.  There is another form of heat for this Mississippi summer and, just like the weather, we as Mississippi citizens may have little control over it.  Recent action in the 2013 regular session of the Mississippi Legislature redefining a concealed weapon seems to have raised more questions than it clarified.

                House Bill 2 was passed in order to bring clarification to the definition of a concealed weapon.  The bill defines concealed weapons as “hidden or obscured from common observation” and clarifies that a weapon is a concealed weapon if it is in a holster or other carry device, even if a portion of the weapon or holster is partially visible.  The bill also notes that Mississippi’s permit and licensing requirements for concealed weapons do not apply to unconcealed weapons.  Thus, the bill has been tagged by many as authorization for open carry of weapons in Mississippi.  The unintended consequences of this clarification are to bring to a rolling boil all sorts of issues associated with handguns and other dangerous weapons in Mississippi.  Gun control advocates are opposed to the law. Second Amendment aficionados are in favor of it. The run of the mill citizen is confused, if he’s keeping up with the debate at all, and law enforcement is confounded.

                The author of House Bill 2, Representative Andy Gipson (GOP-Braxton) says that this legislation only clarified the definition of a concealed weapon and did nothing to change any aspect of Mississippi law that deals with weapons that are not concealed.  Gipson was apparently referring to Article 3, Section 12 of the Mississippi Constitution, which states:  “The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called into question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.” According to the NRA-ILA website, Gipson, in sponsoring House Bill 2 which it claims as NRA-backed legislation, was attempting to make “important changes to vague and problematic language in Mississippi’s carry laws.”[1]  The article goes further to suggest that the legislation addresses a recent opinion by the Attorney General “that has caused additional confusion and concern among carry permit holders and Second Amendment advocates.”[2]  The “average Joe” in Mississippi (based on comments made in response to several blogs and news media articles or videos) seems to have no idea that many firearms advocates characterize Mississippi as an “open carry” state.  OpenCarry.org defines Mississippi as a “licensed open carry state”[3] while the International Business Journal categorizes it as “open carry with restrictions”[4] and a number of other sites call it an “anomalous open carry state”, which translated seems to mean that Mississippi weapons laws may appear confusing to the onlooker.

More next week…….as Judge Kidd’s temporary injunction runs out.  Judge Kidd in Hinds County had issued an injunction, enjoining the effectiveness of HB 2 (set to be effective 7/1/2013) until a hearing on July 8, 2013 in Hinds County.

 



[2] Id.

 

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