Open carry law debate much ado about nothing

Published 12:08am Sunday, June 30, 2013

Twenty-seven words penned nearly 225 years ago frame up one of our nation’s most precious rights as well as some of our most deep-seated points of disagreement.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is fairly simple, straightforward:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The nuances of each word contained in the amendment and the supposed intent of the founding fathers who wrote the words have been scrutinized and debated for decades.

Clearly, some Americans would be perfectly happy just scrapping the Second Amendment entirely.

They’re often quick to point out that this was written when the nation’s army was essentially only a militia. Our modern military negates the need for armed citizens, they say.

These folks are resigned to allow society to rest in the hands of government, fully trusting that government will keep order even if society falters.

If the thought of fully trusting in the government made your blood pressure boil and sweat appear on your forehead, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans take a radically opposite approach.

For these folks, the word “militia” in the first part of the sentence doesn’t negate the “shall not be infringed” portion at the end.

The two sides of the debate terrify one another.

Mississippi passed what many believe to be a controversial law this year to clarify the law allowing citizens to openly carry a firearm in public.

The new law was set to go into effect on Monday, but a lawsuit caused a Hinds County Circuit Court Judge to block the law for at least a week until a hearing on the matter can be scheduled.

It’s ironic that the law will be on hold as Mississippians celebrate the nation’s independence.

Some defenders of the Second Amendment argue that the very reason our nation exists was because armed citizens were able to revolt against a British colonial government that had become too oppressive.

The example strikes at the very core of the matter. Shouldn’t Americans have the right to defend themselves from criminals — and tyrants?

Seems like the answer should be yes.

For me, that matter is fairly simple: Gun control efforts are just laws. The only people who heed laws are the people we don’t have to worry about in the first place.

Criminals don’t care whether something is legal or not. They simply do what they want, when they want.

Mississippi’s open carry law debate seems to be much ado about nothing. Criminals rarely open carry firearms. Doing so would allow people to bring up their guard.

Conversely, if a law-abiding “good guy” is openly carrying a weapon in the presence of a criminal, one of two things is likely to occur.

First, the criminal might think twice about committing his crime knowing that someone near by might take the law into his own hands.

Second, the gun-toting citizen may become the criminal’s first target when bullets start to fly.

I’m all for open carry, provided it’s in public, not on private property — businesses and the like.

The man or woman with the gun strapped to his or her belt is far less worrisome to me than the ones who have a firearm concealed out of sight.

Those folks are likely up to no good.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or