EDITORIAL/Mississippi already 'open-carry'
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:00 AM
Mississippi has been an "open-carry" state since the 1890 Constitution was ratified, so what's the big fuss over guns about?
Neither a new law "clarifying the Constitution" nor a temporary restraining order to block the new law should have any bearing whatsoever on the basic constitutional right of citizens to openly carry weapons.
But "concealed" is apparently what Rep. Andy Gipson, a maverick Republican from Braxton, thought should be defined in order to "clarify the Constitution" when he introduced HB 2 in January.
Now, Gipson and other Republicans like Sen. Giles Ward of Louisville, sponsor of the measure in the Senate, have opened up a can of worms that's brought proponents of weapons bans out of the woodwork.
As a result, gun rights could be limited in Mississippi if a liberal Hinds County court has its way.
When Gipson's bill was introduced, the gun control debate was raging nationally in wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings. Mississippi Republicans were determined and eager then to send a message to Washington.
The result was knee-jerk legislation to "clarify" the state Constitution, making the GOP as guilty as the segregationists with their fear mongering 50 years ago. This new law has whipped everybody into a frenzy over what is already a constitutional right.
It's Populism 101 for the Republicans, but their Sandy Hook strategy has backfired potentially, even though Gipson says HB 2 was a result of a 2012 state Attorney General's ruling saying that a concealed weapon must be completely covered.
Gipson and other Republicans saw opportunity to do something "popular" and they pounced. And the calls now for weapons bans are chilling.
Are there any principled conservatives out there, or is it Cliff Finch all over again, this time in cowboy boots toting a rifle instead of a lunch box (and nothing against cowboy boots and rifles).
Want to give Washington the finger, Republicans, stand behind the Constitution and conservative principles. Don't open a Pandora's box with legislation and show votes designed to bolster an NRA grade.
Government grows and we give away freedom, we give up control, some give up their guns and we end up fearing each other more than the government. Even Republicans become complacent with the secrecy government naturally demands.
Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd on Monday extended his injunction until Friday.
Understandably, law enforcement is concerned about the prospect of Mississippians suddenly arming themselves en masse.
On the other hand, America fought the Revolution over the right to bear arms.
Aren't the bad guys already armed?
The new law clarifies and rationally defines what a concealed weapon is. But, so what? The state Constitution already says citizens can "open-carry."
Few Mississippians even realize they don't need a concealed-carry permit to have a gun in their car or home.
Article 3 Section 12 of the state Constitution under "Right to bear arms" says:
"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 in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons."
Blocking the new law does not block the constitutional right of Mississippians to openly carry a weapon. The state Constitution is still in effect. But in the end, cooler heads must prevail.