In Mississippi, where gun rights have wide support, a legal debate is raging over gun legislation.
Gov. Phil Bryant signed an amended law earlier this year stipulating that gun owners don’t need a special permit to carry a gun in a holster or carrying case, as long as it is at least partially visible. But a state judge blocked the law, which was supposed to go into effect in July, concluding that it is “unconstitutionally vague” and would allow gun owners “to openly carry weapons anywhere and everywhere.”
In striking down the law, Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd wrote of one potential scenario of five young men, all armed, walking down a busy street. “[W]hat, if anything, can a law enforcement officer do? This is a serious concern,” he wrote.
But Republican Gov. Bryant and other supporters, including the Democratic attorney general and most of the Legislature, say the bill clarified a long-standing state law about what a concealed weapon is. They point out that gun owners in Mississippi have been allowed to carry guns openly on the street since the 1800s, though state law didn’t address whether they were allowed to openly carry guns that are in holsters. Carrying a concealed weapon requires a special permit under state law.