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Jackson leaders discuss banning gun...

Jackson leaders discuss banning gun shows, but can they?

By: Sarah Ulmer - August 19, 2020

A faction from the Jackson City Council is publicly making known their opposition to gun shows in the city, and floating the possibility of banning them.

Just a week ago, Councilman Aaron Banks, in an op-ed, said that the city “must address gun shows and ensure that tougher penalties are put in place for those vendors that do not follow proper background checks and other protocol measures.”

This isn’t the first time Jackson officials have attempted to overstep their authority when it comes to guns.

Most recently in April of 2006, the late Mayor Frank Melton attempted to prepare an executive order to outlaw gun shows within the city limits of Jackson. It was found that the mayor or council municipality has the authority to regulate any kind of activity like gun shows with the issuance of an executive order within Mississippi code sections 45-9-51 and 45-9-53.

In that particular situation, an opinion from then Attorney General Jim Hood stated:

“Therefore, it is the opinion of this office that the mayor may not lawfully ban gun shows by the issuance of an executive order or otherwise.”

The “Original Jackson Gun Show” is currently scheduled at the fair grounds for August 29-30, next weekend. Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson says they will continue as usual.

“The show must go on!” said Commissioner Andy Gipson. “There is a gun show scheduled for next week at the fairgrounds. We are still having the gun show at the State Fairgrounds. The ordinance does not apply on property controlled by the State Department of Agriculture such as the Fairgrounds. Matter of fact, I don’t believe the City of Jackson can ban gun shows anywhere because of our state law. I helped write those laws in the Legislature.”

Further back, in 1996, Jackson took the State of Mississippi to court over the matter. The Mississippi Supreme Court held firm that it is not within the city’s authority to enforce local zoning ordinances on state owned land, like the fairgrounds.

According to Gipson, the Mississippi Legislature gave full authority to the Department of Agriculture to regulate the State Fairgrounds.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba attempted to suspend open carry laws in Jackson using the virus as a reason.

He originally said that he was issuing the order as a result of high gun crime and the hardship open carry has put on police to get illegal guns off the street. The order was eventually voted down by the City Council after it was ruled unconstitutional.

Mississippi code that prohibits these types of actions from happening, also prevents counties or municipalities from adopting any ordinance that restricts the possession, carrying, transportation, sale, transfer or ownership of firearms or ammunition or their components.

Comments from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have also added fuel to the fire. She claimed Tuesday that Mississippi and other states are partially to blame for her city’s spike in gun violence.

“Sixty percent of the illegal guns that come into Chicago every year are from out of state, from Indiana, from Mississippi, from other states that have lax gun laws,” said Lightfoot.

Former mayor of Jackson Tony Yarber said on Twitter it is no secret that well known “dope boys” are at these same gun shows buying weapons too.

Governor Tate Reeves responded to the claims made by Lightfoot.

“The Chicago mayor says Mississippians are to blame for the out-of-control violence plaguing her city. It’s a pathetic excuse for the failure of left-wing experiments in undermining police and letting criminals run free,” said Reeves on Twitter.

Reeves added that Mississippians believe in the second amendment and the right to bear arms. He said the blame does not lie with Mississippians. There have been numerous peaceful protests throughout the state and Reeves said gun laws haven’t changed so the idea that it is the fault of Mississippi for other cities’ increased crime is a bogus conspiracy theory.

He believes the problem lies within those cities efforts to defund the police. Reeves added that these efforts should not surprise those officials when crime rates rise.

“As Attorney General, I have pledged to defend your Second Amendment rights, and this office has already opined that the City cannot ban gun shows. I will be closely monitoring the City’s actions to stop them from running afoul of the Constitution or State law,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch on the matter.

No official action has been taken by the City of Jackson to ban gun shows, however in light of previous attempts and state law, it seems unlikely to receive much traction.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: