Elected Officials Can’t Violate Rights During a Pandemic

Elected Officials Can’t Violate Rights During a Pandemic

[IS] Opinions Elected officials have broad powers during a public health crisis, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to violate basic American rights for no good reason. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen some absurd attempts at using this newly broadened power to control citizens. Sitting on a park bench… alone: Illegal in Washington, D.C. Buying plant seeds for your garden in Michigan? Don’t even think about it. But too often we have seen officeholders attempt to push otherwise unattainable and unconstitutional policy proposals through the stroke of a pen. In Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba signed an executive order purporting to “suspend” the right to openly carry a firearm in the city. The right to openly carry a firearm in Mississippi is protected under the state constitution, and many courts have held that it is also protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For obvious reasons, that right cannot be suspended simply because there is a public health crisis. That is why the Mississippi Justice Institute, a constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy where I serve as director, has filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of Dana Criswell, a state representative and longtime Second Amendment advocate. Lumumba noted the recent shootings in Jackson to justify his action. He seems to be very troubled by increasing gun violence in the city. As he should be. But the recent spike dates back many years, […]

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