Panel Discussion of Open-Carry

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Jackson, Miss.
The Mississippi College School of Law conducted a panel discussion about the state's open-carry law.

House Bill 2 was dissected by the major players as they sat side-by-side at a panel discussion.

"In Simpson County, folks think House Bill 2 is, in effect and I haven't seen one person open carrying a gun. Not a one," said Rep. Andy Gipson, the bill's author, as he tries to shoot down continued rumors that open carry will cause chaos.

But Gipson says his message feels like a broken record.

"It doesn't create open carry," said Gipson. "Open carry comes from the Constitution. So I can't help it if some people looked at HB 2 and didn't go back to the Constitution."

Attorney General Jim Hood wrote an opinion last summer, in response to concealed weapon questions by the Ellisville police chief.

"I was minding my own business last summer, actually practicing law and I got a telephone call," Gipson said.

It was an NRA member calling about the AG's opinion. At that point, he started researching the issue that led to HB 2, saying they didn't get any opposition until after its passage.

"We were a bit hoodwinked by this," said Chief Ken Winter, director of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police.

"The answer is, they were not hoodwinked," said Gipson. "They thought it was a conceal carry bill. That's exactly what it is."

Winter says they thought everyone would still need a permit to carry and that state law interpretations wouldn't change. That was, until he read the bill.

"That's when we started raising the concerns and the questions," said Winter. "And that's when we saw that, hey this is changing the whole landscape of how law enforcement has approached this issue forever."

The deadline for briefs to be filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court on this issue is next week.

This week alone, the NRA, 80 legislators and the governor have filed briefs to join in on the case.