The Commercial Appeal
Gun law foes take appeal to governor
Bryant spurns request to reject
JACKSON — A group of Democratic legislators and Hinds County Dist. Atty. Gen. Robert Shuler Smith called Thursday for Gov. Phil Bryant to reject a new state law that allows people to carry handguns in public.
Opponents of the law, which takes effect Monday and allows people to go armed in public as long as their guns are holstered, held a news conference to call on Bryant to add the new law to Thursday’s special legislative session on Medicaid.
Bryant rejected the request.
“This is a one-issue special session to reauthorize the current population on Medicaid,” Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock said.
Bryant signed HB2 into law in May, and it takes effect when the state’s new fiscal year begins on Monday.
The law makes it legal for anyone over 18 to carry a knife, pistol or a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches as long as all or part of the weapon is visible.
Some law enforcement agencies have expressed concern over the new law, opponents said.
“It’s very difficult to determine who’s a threat and who’s not a threat,” said Smith, the Hinds County district attorney.
With state Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, D- Canton, holding what appeared to be an AR-1 5 rif le in the background, Smith noted that police go on high alert when t hey see someone carrying a weapon.
“Law enforcement is concerned about the people who are generally not lawful in their decisions,” he said. “If they’re con-
fronted with individuals who are not lawful, they are concerned that they would use the weapon multiple times. They’re concerned about roadblocks, traffic stops — just general stopping and questioning someone. So they’re concerned about their safety.”
Smith said he plans to talk to other prosecutors about the matter and may seek a restraining order against the law’s implementation.
State Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, said the police chief there asked him to oppose the legislation.
“My police chief says don’t vote for this bill, this bill is going to cause more harm than anything I know of,” Jordan said. “Churches will have to put up signs saying ‘no guns allowed.’ Can you imagine, churches would have to put up signs saying ‘no guns allowed?’ ”