6/15/13

Open Carry Coming to Mississippi

English: CZ-2075D Rami pistol
English: CZ-2075D Rami pistol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I mentioned in a previous post at Atheist Revolution that a new law takes effect in Mississippi on July 1 that aims to encourage school prayer. Not surprisingly, the approach of this law has not received nearly as much attention here as it should. I suppose the local news media must figure that there just isn't enough opposition to it for coverage of it to boost their ratings and generate the advertising revenue on which news media now seem to depend. But there is another new law scheduled to take effect on July 1 that has been receiving quite a bit of attention. Alongside the new and almost certainly unconstitutional school prayer law, Mississippi will become an open carry state on July 1. This means that it will be legal to openly carry a handgun on one's person (e.g., in a visible belt holster) without any sort of permit.

A Mississippian who wants to carry a concealed handgun will still need a concealed weapons permit just like he or she would need today. What the new law changes is that it will be legal to openly carry a handgun without having to have any sort of permit. This new law has been receiving a great deal of attention, primarily because law enforcement personnel are trying to figure out what it means for them.

Many of the implications of the new law remain unknown, or at least have not been widely disseminated to the public. As I understand it, the new law will not change the pre-existing restrictions associated with concealed carry permits. For example, even with a concealed carry permit, a gun owner cannot carry a pistol into a courthouse, a public school, or on private property where the property owner decides to restrict guns. I have always found this private property area to be interesting because it sounds like a property owner who does not want guns on the premises must post a sign and hope that visitors pay attention to it. I am not sure what happens if someone does not see the sign. I suppose an employee would be placed in the position of having to confront someone with a gun and ask them to leave.

Our attorney general has described the new law as "clear as mud" and "poorly written." It sounds like he expects our courts will be busy for years to come determining how to interpret it. This might not be welcome news for those hoping to begin taking advantage of the law as soon as it goes into effect.

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