The mayor of Jackson, Mississippi has used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to suspend the city's open carry law - announcing in a Saturday YouTube video that the suspension was a response to the ongoing gun violence in the city.
"The City of Jackson faces a significant challenge with illegal guns," said Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, citing Mississippi Code 45-17-7 as granting him authority to issue the order. "In the space of just one week, two innocent children have lost their lives due to senseless gun violence. Many of these killings could have been avoided if we had state law that enabled us to better control the presence of firearms on our streets," he added.
"Prior to the open carry law, when Jackson police officers saw a gun in plain view, it gave them probable cause to seize the weapon and determine if it was an illegal weapon or not. The open carry law not only provides protection to individuals who armed with illegal weapons, it creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the community."
In response to the decision, the Mississippi Justice Institute filed a lawsuit against Lumumba, arguing that the action is unconstitutional, according to WLBT.
"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," reads a statement from the group.
"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," said MJI Director Aaron Rice, who added that the crimes have nothing to do with COVID-19, or the right to open-carry a firearm in public for self-defense.
Read the complaint below: