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Criswell Scores Gun Rights Victory in Mississippi: Open Carry Now Guaranteed

By: Teresa Mull

GPM reported in late April that Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, in an unabashed, unsanctioned power grab, announced his citizens’ rights to open carry had been “suspended” for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

State Rep. Dana Criswell, however, stood up to Lumumba by filing a lawsuit with The Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI).

“[Lumumba] had no law to suspend, because there is no open carry law in Mississippi; it’s actually part of our state constitution that says the only thing that can be controlled is by the legislature and is concealed carry – so not open carry,” Criswell told GPM.

Criswell’s efforts have been rewarded. According to an announcement on his website:

On Friday, a federal court ordered the City of Jackson to never again act on its own to restrict the right to openly carry a firearm.

The Order was issued as a Consent Decree after the Mississippi Justice Institute (“MJI”), a non-profit constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, filed a lawsuit against the City and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba on behalf of State Rep. Dana Criswell. The lawsuit challenged the legality of an executive order from Mayor Lumumba attempting to temporarily ban the open carry of firearms because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Lumumba allowed his open carry ban to expire on April 30, 2020, three days after the lawsuit was filed. The court’s Order prevents such bans in the future and was agreed to by the parties involved in the lawsuit.

“We are very happy with the outcome of this case,” said MJI director Aaron Rice. “No mayor or other elected official in Jackson will ever again be able to act on their own to take away the right to openly carry a firearm in the City of Jackson, for any reason. We hope city officials can find a way to effectively address violent crime in Jackson, but they must do so in a way that respects the right of individuals to protect themselves.”

Under the Consent Decree, the City cannot take any action that would directly or indirectly prohibit, restrict, or inhibit the open carry of firearms in the City unless Mississippi’s statutes and constitutional law are first changed to allow for that.

“I am very glad to know that this will never happen again in the future,” said Criswell. “Mississippians should be able to protect themselves no matter what city they are in.”

“I am pleased at the result in this case,” said MJI volunteer attorney Sterling Kidd. “I greatly appreciate the opportunity serve as co-counsel in protecting and vindicating this fundamental right.”

The Consent Decree was issued by Chief U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III in U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Mississippi on June 12, 2020. It went into effect immediately.

Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at teresa@gunpowdermagazine.com.

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