Jackson Mayor suspends open carry law amid COVID-19 pandemic, receives backlash

Chokwe A. Lumumba
Chokwe A. Lumumba(The City of jackson)
Updated: Apr. 26, 2020 at 2:09 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba issued an executive order suspending the open carry law in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lumumba made the announcement in a video uploaded to YouTube on Saturday. In the video, he stated the suspension is a response to the rampant gun violence in the city.

On April 1, Lumumba issued a city-wide stay-at home-order, in which residents were advised to stay home during the COVID-10 pandemic.

Despite the order, crime continued to rise in Jackson.

A number of deadly shootings have been reported this month, including an incident in which five shootings happened in a time span of four hours.

11-year-old Jordan McCoy was shot and killed in his sleep during the shootings.

Then ten days later, 5-year-old Queenyana Davis was shot and killed during a visit at the Wood Village Apartments.

Lumumba addressed these shootings saying, “In the space of just one week, two innocent children have lost their lives due to senseless gun violence. Many of these killings could have been avoided if we had state law that enabled us to better control the presence of firearms on our streets."

He said that progressive programs, such as the Credible Messenger program, have been implemented to help lessen violent crime in Jackson.

He stated that the intent of such programs is to help people reach better solutions before they turn deadly. However, Lumumba said these measures alone are not enough to reduce gun violence in the city.

“The City of Jackson faces a significant challenge with illegal guns,” Lumumba said. “Prior to the open carry law, when Jackson police officers saw a gun in plain view, it gave them probable cause to seize the weapon and determine if it was an illegal weapon or not. The open carry law not only provides protection to individuals who armed with illegal weapons, it creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the community.”

Lumumba stated this led to his decision to issue an executive order suspending the open carry law during the COVID-19 civil emergency.

He said that the state statute, Mississippi Code 45-17-7, grants him the right to issue such order. “Under state statute, I am given the discretion in the interest of public safety and welfare to issue such orders that are necessary for the protection of life and property.”

Lumumba also stated that he does not disagree with the Second Amendment. “I want to make it clear, that I have no principled disagreement with the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but all rights must be bound by reasonable regulations.”

Lumumba’s executive order received backlash from Republican State Senator Chris McDaniels and the Attorney General of the State Lynn Fitch.

McDaniels made a statement on Facebook criticizing Lumumba’s decision.

“Mayor Lumumba has no power to trample on the Second Amendment,” McDaniels wrote. "Despite his attempted power grab, he absolutely cannot block legal carry of lawfully owned firearms. Instead of dictating unconstitutional actions, he would be better served to finally repair the city’s potholes, help reduce violent crime against innocent victims, and perhaps balance a budget for a change.”

Fitch released a statement on Twitter saying that cities do not possess the authority to violate citizens’ Constitutional rights.

Lumumba also provided a link under the video for a petition to repeal the open carry law. So far, the petition has 39 signatures.

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