The Mississippi Justice Institute has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Jackson in the wake of Mayor Chockwe Lumumba’s order restricting open carry on behalf of State Rep. Dana Criswell. The case has been assigned to District Judge Dan Jordan III and Magistrate Judge Keith Ball.
“The City of Jackson cannot restrict your right to openly carry a firearm, whether we are under an emergency order or not,” MJI said in a release.
On Monday, Criswell, along with a handful of his legislative colleagues, sent a letter to Mayor Lumumba, Gov. Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Attorney General Lynn Fitch requesting immediate action and demanding that the mayor rescind the order.
The lawmakers wrote, “The undersigned Mississippi State Representatives hereby express their intent to oppose any state funds, grants, loans or bonds for the City of Jackson until the executive order has been rescinded, and hereby request immediate action against this executive order by Gov. Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Attorney General Lynn Fitch.”
The letter was signed by Criswell, Rep. Steve Hopkins, Rep. Becky Currie, Rep. Dan Eubanks and Rep. Brady Williamson.
“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 lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Mississippi on Monday.
The full letter from the lawmakers is below:
To; Governor Tate Reeves
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann
Attorney General Lynn Fitch
The undersigned Mississippi State Representatives have become aware that Mayor Lumumba has issued an executive order restricting citizens right to keep and bear arms. Under the guise of protecting the people during the COVID-19 pandemic the mayor has assumed authority that is not granted to him by Mississippi law, the Mississippi Constitution or the US Constitution.
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In the United States Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the court affirmed an individual’s right to possess firearms, unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home, and the United States Supreme Court in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), affirmed that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms,” as protected under the Second Amendment, is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the states.
In addition to the protections of citizen’s right to keep and bear arms within the US Constitution, Article 3, Section 12, of the constitution of Mississippi provides “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.”
Article 3, section 5, of the constitution of Mississippi reads “That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into the state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Also, Article 3, section 14 of the constitution of Mississippi reads “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law.”
On April 24, 2020 Mayor Lumumba issued an executive order suspending the “open carry” law during the COVID-19 civil emergency and stated that Mississippi Law 45-7-17 (e) gives him that authority.
The Mississippi State Constitution only provides that the “Legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.” No politician in the State of Mississippi has the authority to regulate or forbid open carry of a firearm. The state constitution is very clear that only the legislature has the authority to regulate or forbid concealed carry. Mayor Lumumba therefore has NO authority to forbid the open carry of a firearm in the city of Jackson.
Mayor Lumumba’s actions are in violation of the Mississippi State Constitution and prove him unfit to lead the capitol city of the State of Mississippi.
The undersigned Mississippi State Representatives wish to express their deep commitment to the rights of all citizens to keep and bear arms, and wish to express strong opposition to the mayor’s executive order that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of the citizens.
We intend to stand against and oppose, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights, and to use any legal means at our disposal to protect the rights of the citizens of The City of Jackson and the State of Mississippi to keep and bear arms.
The undersigned Mississippi State Representatives hereby express our intent to uphold the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of The State of Mississippi and demand Mayor Lumumba immediately rescind the executive order.
The undersigned Mississippi State Representatives hereby express their intent to oppose any state funds, grants, loans or bonds for the City of Jackson until the executive order has been rescinded, and hereby request immediate action against this executive order by Gov. Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Attorney General Lynn Fitch.
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