Some church leaders are calling on Mississippi’s open carry laws to be repealed

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 7:52 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some of the state’s religious leaders are going beyond church policy and asking for action on gun control from lawmakers.

This resolution from the state’s largest African American denomination may seem like it blurs lines of politics and religion, but Dr. CJ Rhodes explains it this way.

“One way you can look at it is this is an act of pastoral care. We shepherd people in our pews and our communities that are impacted by this, not just in terms of their physical well-being but mental, spiritual, [and] social well-being,” described Rhodes, Third Vice President of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi.

The General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi wants lawmakers to repeal the state’s open carry laws.

“There are a lot of sane gun owners out there,” said Rhodes. “And of course, living in, you know, Jackson, you know, you got to make sure you got something out you sometimes. But the fact of the matter is, so many of our people are being terrorized in our communities. We’ve got to do something about that as well. So, yes, I understand the Second Amendment. I understand, you know, bearing arms, but we also need to make sure that we can ensure that folks feel safe in their communities.”

However, the Mississippi Justice Institute says that’s a complicated request.

“The first problem I see is that these advocates would have in trying to do this is that the Mississippi Constitution, in fact, protects the right to openly carry a firearm,” said MJI Director Aaron Rice.

And right now, there’s not a process for a constitutional amendment to be filed. MJI Director Aaron Rice says the resolution raises a similar concern for him as the Jackson mayor’s attempted order to ban open carry during the pandemic.

“Which is to point out that there’s high violent crime, and then to kind of make a boogeyman of open carry laws and making no attempt to actually link that high rate of violence to the open carry laws,” noted Rice.

The convention is also calling on lawmakers to hold all individuals involved in the misuse of TANF funds accountable.

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