BOBBY HARRISON: Consider weapons, bar drunks and Capitol dinners

Where would you feel less safe – in a debate of mostly middle-age, gun-packing men about Medicaid expansion in front of television cameras or in a restaurant where in the adjacent bar two gun-toting drunks were arguing about a drug-deal or why one tried to make a move on the other’s girl?

And don’t give me that argument that the two drunks can be arrested for public intoxication so everyone would be safe. If you can’t be drunk in a bar, where can you be drunk?

The one saving grace is that property owners have the right to ban weapons on their premises if they so choose. The question is whether businesses will want to upset the pro-open carry crowd. And I understand the rationale that it is important to keep weapons out of official buildings, such as the Capitol, because of the possible desire by someone to make a symbolic statement by causing damage in a high visibility public building.

But still…

The gun debate – more specifically debate about open carry – is a difficult one. The 1890s Mississippi Constitution states that the Legislature “may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.” Thus open carry supporters argue that the rest of Section 12 of the Constitution stating “the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms…shall not be called into question” paves the way for open carry.

It makes sense especially since the framers highlight the Legislature’s authority to regulate concealed carry.

But it almost seems counterintuitive to say the Legislature can regulate concealed carry, including requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but cannot require such a process for open carry.

The argument I guess is that a person with a concealed weapon is more dangerous than a person leaving nothing – weapons-wise – to the imagination.

Those are interesting questions attorney Ross presents as she tries to convince the judiciary to block the enactment of the law.

But at least I finally have figured out why House Speaker Philip Gunn had a controversial dinner earlier this year with campaign supporters after hours in the state Capitol – he knew that it would be weapons-free.

Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal