The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd's injunction against House Bill 2 today. HB 2 defined what constituted concealed for the purposes of concealed carry. By defining concealed, the bill clarified that open carry is permitted under the Mississippi State Constitution.
Judge Kidd had found HB 2 to be "unconstitutionally vague" back in July and had issued a permanent injunction against the law. The parties seeking the injunction included Hinds County DA Robert Shuler Smith, Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, and St. Senator John Horhn (D-Jackson). Backers of the the lawsuit included the Southern Poverty Law Center who helped draft the briefs.
In their 9-0 decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that Judge Kidd had erred as a matter of law.
This Court now finds that the Circuit Judge erred as a matter of law when he found House Bill 2 to be vague and, therefore, unconstitutional. He also erred when he stated that "a reasonable person reading the bill could not discern what the law allows and what it prohibits." Therefore, the Petition for Interlocutory Appeal is granted and rendered, and the Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Injunctive Relief is vacated.The Court also assessed the cost of the appeal to the Appellees.
Mississippi politicians were quick to praise the Supreme Court's decision on open carry.
Gov. Phil Bryant (R-MS) released this statement:
JACKSON—The Mississippi Supreme Court today ruled 9-0 that House Bill 2, which clarifies the definition of “concealed” for purposes of Mississippi laws regarding the concealed carrying of firearms, is valid and constitutional. The court also vacated the injunction that a Hinds County judge had issued against the bill. As a result, it is now clear that House Bill 2 can take effect statewide.Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) issued a briefer statement praising the decision:
“House Bill 2 is an important clarification of citizens’ right to keep and bear arms under the state and federal Constitutions. I am very pleased that the court has agreed that House Bill 2 is consistent with the Constitution so that law will now take effect statewide.”
“I’m proud the Supreme Court confirmed our goal of protecting our right to bear arms. Today’s ruling is a win for our Constitution and a win for every Mississippian.”Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton), author of HB 2, said he knew his bill was constitutional and was happy that the Court agreed.
“When the lawsuit was first filed, I said I never seen a lawsuit filed over the constitutionality of a law in the Constitution,” Gipson said.The statement from Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman (R-MS) noted he was a NRA Life Member and he was pleased the Supreme Court "has protected this fundamental right."
Gipson has said "If you carry a weapon concealed, you need a concealed carry permit. Otherwise, the Constitution of 1890 guarantees each citizen the right to keep and bear arms to defend himself/herself. No change to the constitution here; just defining concealed for the first time. Until now, individual law enforcement or courts could fabricate a definition which resulted in an illogical infringement on constitutional rights."
Of course, the plaintiffs who brought the case were none too happy. St. Sen. John Horhn (D-Jackson) plans to introduce legislation to require permits for both open and concealed carry. He has also called on Jackson and Hinds County leaders to ban open carry. It should be noted that Sen. Horhn, like every other member of the Mississippi legislature, voted for HB 2.
There is no word of any public reaction from Hinds County DA Robert Shuler Smith or his attorney Lisa Ross.