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Judge grants injunction, blocks open carry in Mississippi (VIDEO)

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Starting on today, law-abiding Mississippians were supposed to be allowed to openly carry a loaded firearm without a permit — however, a state judge granted a temporary injunction that prevented the law from taking effect, citing concerns that the law lacked clarity.

Hinds Country Circuit Judge Winston Kidd ruled on Friday that House Bill 2 was vague and that an injunction was needed to prevent “irreparable harm,” the Associated Press reported.

Judge Kidd has scheduled a hearing for July 8 to re-debate the open carry law, a decision that was praised by Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith, who filed the motion requesting the injunction on Friday.

“We do believe there are several issues that have to be explored to see whether or not the legislature was allowed to vote and regulate on anything other than concealed weapons,” Smith told the AP.

State Sen. John Horhn (D-Jackson) also backed the move, noting that when he voted for the law he thought it would only clarify the definition of concealed carry and not permit open carry without a permit.

“The interpretation is that by putting that change in the law you allow open carry, and we don’t believe that the constitution provides for open carry,” said Horhn.

Horhn wants the legislature to re-examine House Bill 2 to clear up any ambiguity concerning open carry and its application.

“The governor is probably not going to want to address this issue in a special session. We would hope that the courts would delay any sort of a ruling on this matter until such time that we can go back in the legislature in the next session,” said Horhn.

Yet, the governor’s office expressed disappointment with the ruling, especially considering the law’s popularity in both the state House and Senate.

“It is disappointing a Hinds County Chancery Court would overrule an overwhelming decision of the Mississippi Legislature and the governor,” a spokesperson for Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement.

Attorney Stephen Stamboulieh, who helped draft the law, was also miffed by the injunction.  He believes that the judge was influenced by pro-gun control lawmakers and advocates.

“Anti-gun politicians. That is the only answer. This is a side show. There is nothing vague about the definition of concealed,” Stamboulieh told local news affiliate WLBT.

Stamboulieh added that the National Rifle Association will likely file a brief seeking to overturn the injunction next week.

As previously noted, the law is not that confusing.   If one openly carries a firearm, he/she does not need a permit.  If one opts for concealed carry, he/she needs a CCW permit.  In both cases, that individual needs to be a law-abiding citizen (no felony convictions) who has never been adjudicated mentally defective and over the age of 21 (veterans 18 and over can qualify too).

Also mentioned in that article was while there were some concerns about the application of the law amongst police officials throughout the state, at the end of the day, it seemed that the biggest concern isn’t the law itself, but firearms safety and training.  That is, ensuring gun owners exercise this right responsibly.

“One of our main concerns with a citizen carrying a firearm, no matter under which law it is, that they are trained not only in the operation and functions of the firearm but when that person can deploy that firearm,” said Ward Calhoun, the chief deputy of the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department.

“This is a huge responsibility for someone and they had better be clear on these and many other aspects of carrying a firearm otherwise it could lead to much more serious matters.”

As many readers can attest, open carry is not a big deal.  So it raises the questions: Why are some Mississippians making so much of a fuss over it?

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