Mississippis Open Carry Hoopla Fizzles
"There will be violence in the streets." They said. "Shootouts and crazy people with guns everywhere." "A return of the wild west!" Well a month after it went into effect, the blood is still in the veins and there silence on open carry in the Magnolia State is deafening.
Mississippi's fight for open-carry of firearms by those not legally prohibited from possessing them in public came about in a weird way. You see, the state laws held the counter-think statements that included that concealed carry (with a permit) was legal, and open possession of a firearm in public was legal (as long as it wasn't concealed) was legal, but then went on to state that any pistol concealed in part (interpreted as inside a holster) is still concealed. This meant that concealed carry license holders, if they allowed their gun to be seen even by accident, could go to jail, while open carry practitioners carrying a gun in a holster were illegally concealing a weapon. As you can see, this needed clarification. As such, the section was rewritten and signed by the governor, to better explain both concealed and open carry.
This led to...
The hoopla machine
No sooner had the governor signed the clarification, media outlets began to widely proclaim across Mississippi the dangers of open carry. Slated to go into effect on July 1, 2013, it was held up by an injunction filed by District Judge Winston Kidd of Hinds County, where the state seat of Jackson is located. Hinds County's district attorney, sheriff, four constables, and four state senators had sued to block the law, saying they feared people could become trigger-happy and put law enforcement officers and civilians in danger.
(What the media tried to sell as open carry)
Hearing all of the rumors and seeing the constant media attention, local county and city administrators around the state started the knee-jerk response of passing ordinances in their respective areas banning or at least limiting open carry. Like a domino effect, business owners began hanging signs in their front doors proclaiming "No Weapons." After all, no one wanted Biloxi, Pascagoula, Vicksburg, or Natchez to become Dodge City.
Well, the State Supreme Court struck down Judge Kidd's injunction and affirmed the new law as valid. It went into effect on September 30th . Well, guess what happened on October 1st?
Nothing. The sun still came up. The birds still chirped. The pecans and magnolias still held firm along with the live oaks along the Gulf Coast. In the past few weeks of legal open carry, it is rare to see a Mississippian who is practicing the 'new' right. However, there are still lots of concealed carry holders in the state who no doubt still quietly have their guns go unseen in the best of places.
To date, we have seen no gunfights, bar brawls, intimidation, or lawlessness associated with open carry in the state. This phenomenon has been acknowledged in the Jackson Clarion Ledger, the largest daily newspaper in Mississippi.
In a note of disclosure, I am a Mississippi Department of Public Safety (Highway Patrol) approved Enhanced Concealed Carry instructor and regularly teach IC/CCW courses in the state. Being somewhat hyperaware of those around me, and traveling throughout the state from Gulfport to Tupelo in the past month, I have not observed a single open carry practitioner. Nor have I felt like I was in the bad old western movie days of Deadwood or Tombstone.
Could it be that the media machine is not a guaranteed fortuneteller?
Let us just say you would do better in a Biloxi casino.