The Commercial Appeal

Gun law foes take appeal to governor

Bryant spurns request to reject

- By Phil West Special to Desoto Appeal

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?’ ”

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