Members of Mississippi’s legal community are still debating the merits of Open Carry-Gun laws nearly six months after the Supreme Court found the policy to be constitutional. MPB’s Paul Boger reports opponents of Open Carry say the law is dangerous while supporters believe it’s an inherent right.
At a public forum at Jackson State University last night, experts on Mississippi’s legal system debated the merits of the relatively new state law that allows adults to openly carry firearms without a permit.
Jackson Police Chief Lindsey Horton believes open carry potentially puts law enforcement at risk.
"I don't think an individual should just be able to go out and purchase a weapon, strap it on and just walk around." said Horton. "I think that's dangerous. It's dangerous for them, and it's dangerous for society."
However, not everyone in Mississippi’s legal system feels the law is dangerous. Oxford attorney Reed Martz is an advocate of Second Amendment rights. He says every Mississippian has the right to defend themselves.
"Going back to constitutional right enshrined in 1890 by our legislature doesn't pose any more of a danger to law enforcement than anything else." said Martz. "In fact, I think it poses less of a danger because they will at least know who's carrying a gun if people are doing it openly."
Patricia Bennett is a former District Attorney, Judge and Professor of law. While she's a proponents of the law, she believes the legislature should come up with a way to address the concerns that many have with the law.
"I think the legislature should come up with regulations to regulate some of this to take care of concerns for public safety to require someone to take some type of training and knowledge about how you are to use that firearm." said Bennett. "Again, all of this can be done without abridging the right to bear arms."
14 other states have open carry laws that are similar to Mississippi, while another 15 allow individuals to carry a firearm only if they have a license.