The Mississippi Justice Institute has filed suit in federal court, in an effort to block Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba's ban on open carry in the city. On Saturday, Lumumba enacted the ban, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Here is the text of the MJI release:
Jackson, Miss. – The city of Jackson cannot restrict your right to openly carry a firearm, whether we are under an emergency order or not. The Mississippi Justice Institute (“MJI”), a non-profit constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy (“MCPP”), has filed a lawsuit against this against this unconstitutional and illegal action on behalf of State Rep. Dana Criswell.
On Saturday, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba signed an executive order attempting to override constitutional rights and state law in order to prohibit open carry in the city.
“A serious pandemic is not an opportunity for unconstitutional virtue signaling by grandstanding politicians,” said Aaron Rice, the Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute. “Mayor Lumumba has exploited the present public health crisis as a pretext to target law abiding people who are exercising their constitutional rights.”
"As a citizen of the great state of Mississippi who has regular business in our capital city of Jackson, I was shocked by the recent announcement by Mayor Lumumba,” said Criswell. “I take the protection of myself and my family very seriously and believe deeply in the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The mayor’s attempt to disarm me and deny me the ability of self-defense puts me and my family in danger anytime we are in Jackson.”
The U.S. Constitution and the Mississippi Constitution protect the right to openly carry firearms in public for self-defense, as do Mississippi statutes. A mayor does not have the authority to override these constitutional rights, even during a state of emergency.
“I have been honored to serve as an MCPP Contributing Fellow, and this lawsuit is precisely the type of important work that drew me to volunteer with MCPP and MJI in the first place,” said MJI volunteer attorney, Sterling Kidd. “The government must respect all citizens’ Constitutional right to protect themselves; arguably, a time of crisis is when that right is most important.”
“While we are deeply saddened by the horrific crimes that have occurred in Jackson, those crimes have nothing to do with the current public health crisis or the right to openly carry a firearm in public for self-defense,” said Rice. “Mississippians should know that when the government tries to take away your constitutional rights, MJI will always be in your corner to help you fight back.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Mississippi. Please note that the lawsuit was filed this last night and a copy will be posted at mspolicy.org and on Twitter when it is made available by the courts.