The status of the Mississippi ‘open carry’ law as of August 8, 2013. For those not familiar with Mississippi counties, Hinds county is the county that the city of Jackson is in.
MS “open carry” law is now in the hands of the State Supreme Court
August 8, 2013 - By Dana, Laws and Legislation -
Now we wait
Attorney Lisa Mishune Ross who represents DA Robert Shuler Smith and the handful of Hinds County Constables who have been “confused” by House Bill 2, filed a rambling and mostly irrelevant brief with the MS Supreme Court supporting Judge Winston Kidd’s injunction against House Bill 2. After reading her brief I am concerned that we are left completely uninformed of Ms Ross’ stand on dueling.
Ms Ross proposes to address three issues in her brief:
A. Whether the phrase “called not be called into question” [ I believe she means "shall not be called into question"] means the Mississippi Legislature cannot place reasonable restrictions, consistent with public safety and Article 3, § 12, on the right to keep and bear arms in public?
B. Whether House Bill 2 is unconstitutionally vague on its face as a matter of law? .
C. Whether Judge Kidd violated the Separation of Powers Doctrine?
Ms Ross begins her argument with the MS Constitution Article 3, Section 12;
“[T] he right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in the aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called into question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.”
She spends a great deal of time on the phrase “shall not be called into question” and attempts to make a point that this phrase does not limit the government from placing “reasonable limitations consistent with public safety on the right to keep and bear arms.” She continues further to site several court cases where the U.S. Supreme Court has issued opinions supporting governments ability to impose limitations on the “right to keep and bear arms” Her point seems to be that she and her clients are distraught because House Bill 2 did not outline limitations on citizens right to keep and bear arms.
They and Judge Kidd want the Legislature to outline in the bill who can and can not carry weapons openly. The problem with this is that House Bill 2 does not address open carry of weapons, it simply defines “concealed”. Other laws address the issue of who can and can not carry a weapon.
The second point in Ms Ross’ brief is her attempt to show that House Bill 2 is “unconstitutionally vague”. Her first point on this matter is a claim that there has been confusion among the population on House Bill 2. She quotes Attorney General Hood in an interview where he stated, there has been, “quite a bit of confusion” about House Bill 2. The problem with that is Judge Kidd, Ms Ross and her clients are the source of that confusion. This I believe has been their tactic all along. They spread ideas about House Bill 2 that they know are false and cry on TV about how confused they are, then go to court and claim the bill is confusing.
She goes on to propose that House Bill 2 is vague when it states that a weapon is not concealed if the “pistol carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible.” Ms Ross states that she believes this is confusing because she can not determine if this applies to the pistol or the holster being “wholly or partially visible”, although she does not seem to have any problem understanding the old definition that reads “wholly or partially concealed”. In her argument she is taking one phrase out of context and then claiming it is not clear.
The entire section she is referring too states:
For the purposes of this section, “concealed” means hidden or obscured from common observation and shall not include any weapon listed in subsection (1) of this section, including, but not limited to, a loaded or unloaded pistol carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible, or carried upon the person in a scabbard or case for carrying the weapon that is wholly or partially visible.
I am not an english teacher but when I read this definition in context of the entire bill it is apparent to me that “wholly or partially visible” is referring to the weapon. I’ve been told that the subject of this sentence is “weapon” so it is reasonable to assume and grammatically correct to assume “wholly or partially visible” is referring to the weapon.
Ms Ross ends her brief with a defense of Judge Kidd’s actions and counters the claim that he has violated the separation of powers principle. In her defense she list several past opinions of the Court that emphasis the importance the Court places on judicial independence. She argues that the judicial branch has the authority to “say what the law is” and that is what Judge Kidd has done. But it seems to me that Judge Kidd did not say what the law is but rather stated what he wants to law to be. He told the Legislature that he did not like the law they passed and insist that they change it to meet his qualifications.
My question is, If Judge Kidd’s ruling is upheld by the Supreme Court, does the Legislature need to ask Judge Kidd if any revision to House Bill 2 is acceptable to him before anything is passed next legislative session?