July 3, 2013 11:05:50 AM
JACKSON -- The Mississippi Supreme Court on Tuesday said it won't undo a circuit judge's order that's blocking an open-carry gun law from taking effect.
A panel of three justices said they made their decision for procedural reasons, and "the panel expresses no opinion respecting the merits of the matters pending before the circuit court."
Their ruling means that Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd can hold a July 8 hearing he had already set, to decide whether to extend the injunction he handed down this past Friday.
The injunction blocked the gun law from taking effect, as scheduled, on Monday. Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith was among those who asked Kidd to block the law, saying it could put law enforcement officers and others in danger. Kidd said Friday that the law is too vague.
Lawmakers passed the measure during their 2013 session as House Bill 2, and supporters say it clarifies that people in Mississippi don't need any kind of state-issued permit to carry a gun that's not concealed.
Attorney General Jim Hood filed papers with the Supreme Court on Monday, asking justices to undo Kidd's order. He argued that opponents had made no argument that an open-carry law would be unconstitutional. Hood said they only made vague policy statements, "none of which represent a legal sufficient basis for the judiciary to overturn the will and judgment of the Legislature."
The bill's chief sponsor, Republican Rep. Andy Gipson of Braxton, said in a news release Tuesday that he's disappointed the Supreme Court did not immediately overturn Kidd's injunction and allow the law to take effect.
"I am confident that the court will ultimately validate House Bill 2," Gipson said. "The constitution remains in effect today just as it has since Mississippi became a state."
Hood, a Democrat, issued a nonbinding legal opinion June 13 saying that once the open-carry gun law takes effect, firearms would still be banned on school and college campuses, and law-enforcement officers could ban the open carry of guns in courthouses and other public buildings. Hood also said people would still be able to ban weapons on private property.
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