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Mississippi Lawyer Blog

Gun Deaths Now Outpacing Motor Vehicle Deaths in 21 States

According to a report released in 2016, in the year 2014, more people died from guns than from motor vehicle accidents in 21 states across the nation (35,647 deaths from guns and 33,599 deaths from motor vehicle accidents). The research was done by The Violence Policy Center after analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC routinely tallies all causes of death on an annual basis, and while traffic fatalities have been gradually declining, largely due to increased safety regulations, gun deaths have continued to climb.

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The Legislative Director of the Violence Policy Center, Kristen Rand, noted that firearms are the only consumer product not regulated for health and safety by the federal government. Just five years prior, in 2009, gun deaths exceeded motor vehicle accident deaths in only ten states—a number that has more than doubled in just five years. Further, firearm deaths among those from 0-19 years old is on the rise, with 46 children and teens being shot each day, 7 of those fatally. These numbers include suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, assaults, murder, and police interventions.

Gun Violence Kills 36 People a Day in the U.S.

The 21 states in which gun deaths have outpaced motor vehicle deaths are: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The District of Columbia also has more gun fatalities each year than motor vehicle fatalities. On average, gun violence kills about 36 people a day in the United States—a number which does not include suicides from guns.

Despite the fact that more and more organizations are speaking out against gun violence, Congress has refused to budge on restrictions passed more than two decades ago, preventing the CDC from researching gun violence as a public health issue. Senator Edward Markey made the statement (in 2016, even before the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas) that “The epidemic of gun violence in America is not preordained, it is preventable.” 

What Might Gun Regulation Look Like?

If the firearm industry were to be regulated, minimum safety standards such as the requirement of safety devices, such as a minimum trigger pull, load indicators and magazine disconnects, might be included in that regulation. There could also be bans on military-style assault weapons, restrictions on gun possessions by those convicted of a violent misdemeanor, and expanded prohibitions for those with a history of domestic violence.

Better enforcement of the present gun laws, an increase in data collected on gun sales, and more public education regarding the risks associated with firearms could also be a part of such regulation. It is unlikely gun regulation will occur under the current administration, therefore deaths related to gun violence will probably continue to increase.   

How Gun Laws Vary from State to State

According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Actions, there are currently only 8 states in which gun ownership is restricted, with the state laws which permit the government to exercise complete discretion over the issuance of carry permits. These states are: California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Hawaii. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 12 states allow individuals to carry concealed firearms for lawful purposes with no permit required (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut). The remainder of the states fall somewhere in the middle, with either “reasonable issue” or “shall issue” right to carry laws. Shall issue laws provide that, when a person completes certain requirements, and is considered a law-abiding citizen, he or she will be granted a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Reasonable issue laws provide that the government has some discretion over carry permits, however all law-abiding persons will generally be granted a carry permit for a firearm.

Gun Laws in the State of Mississippi

As noted, Mississippi is among the states with the least amount of restrictions regarding gun ownership. As of 2016, the following laws apply to the state of Mississippi:

 

  1. While Mississippi allows “constitutional carry” of a firearm, concealed without a state permit, the gun cannot be in a person’s waistband or pocket, rather must be in some type of holster or sheath.
  2. There is no waiting period in the state of Mississippi for the purchase of a firearm.
  3. Mississippi does not allow possession, manufacture or sale of silencers, however does allow possession of any type of device or suppressor which is authorized under federal law.
  4. Open Carry in Mississippi requires the person to be over the age of 18—although federal law requires a person to be at least 21 to purchase a firearm—and allows that person to carry a firearm in a holster, sheath or scabbard which is at least partially visible above the clothing anywhere guns are not otherwise prohibited.
  5. Private property owners can prohibit open carry or concealed carry without a permit in the following places:
    1. Election polling places
    2. Prisons, jails, detention facilities
    3. Police department, sheriff’s department or highway patrol station
    4. Schools—universities, community colleges, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools
    5. Courthouses and courtrooms
    6. Meeting places for governing bodies
    7. Athletic events at schools or colleges, or professional athletic events
    8. Bars or the bar areas of restaurants
    9. Places of worship
    10. Airport terminals
    11. Private businesses or properties which post a notice that firearms are not allowed on the premises
    12. Any place federal law prohibits carrying a firearm (post offices, federal courthouses, etc.)
    13. Any area declared a “place of nuisance,” due to illegal activities

  1. The concealed carry without a permit laws in the state of Mississippi provide that a person may, without a permit, carry a concealed firearm which is “hidden or obscured from common observation,” so long as the firearm is in a sheath or holster. A firearm, under the concealed carry without a permit laws may be carried in a purse, satchel, bag or briefcase.
  2. Mississippi also has laws which allow a concealed carry with a standard permit, and a concealed carry with an enhanced permit. A concealed carry with a standard permit means you have undergone a background check and fingerprinting. The only real reason for a Mississippi concealed carry with a standard permit is that more than 30 other states allow some form of reciprocity concealed carry for Mississippi residents with a permit. Those with a Mississippi concealed permit are exempt from the necessity of another background check when purchasing a gun. A Mississippi concealed carry with enhanced permit requires eight hours of certified training, and results in an endorsement on the concealed carry permit which will allow you to carry in most places (listed above) which would otherwise be restricted. That being said, you cannot carry a concealed weapon in the following places even if you have a concealed carry with enhanced permit:
    1. Prison, jail or detention centers
    2. Highway patrol stations, sheriff’s offices, police stations
    3. Any area declared a place of nuisance
    4. Any private business posting notice that firearms are banned
    5. Courtrooms, while court is in session
    6. Any place where carrying a firearm is prohibited under federal law
    7. Campus carry for enhanced permit holders is allowed according to a Mississippi Attorney General’s opinion from 2012.

The Castle Doctrine has been enacted in the state of Mississippi, which is a self-defense theory giving a homeowner the right to protect his or her home with the use of deadly force. Although the gun laws in Mississippi have become significantly more permissive over the past few years, private property owners are still allowed to ban firearms on their properties by posting a sign. If a person carries a gun onto private property after such a sign has been properly posted, he or she could face a firearms charge or trespassing charges. The property owner is required to post written notice which is clearly readable at ten feet or less that states: “Carrying of a pistol or revolver is prohibited.”

Mississippi local governments are prohibited, under Mississippi state law, from adopting any ordinance which restricts gun carry rights, however they are allowed to adopt an ordinance which regulates firearm carry at: public parks, political rallies, public meetings (county, city or other governmental entity), a professional athletic event, an athletic event at a school or college, a parade, or at any “sensitive” area of governmental operation where the public is not typically allowed.”

What if You Have Been Arrested for a Gun Crime in the State of Mississippi?

Despite the fact that Mississippi has considerably relaxed their gun laws, there are still criminal offenses you could commit which involve a firearm. Some examples of those offenses include:

 

  • No person may solicit, persuade, encourage or entice a licensed dealer or private individual to transfer a firearm or ammunition in violation of Mississippi state law.
  • No person may give, sell or loan a firearm—or any deadly weapon—to a person who is under the age of 18.
  • Any parent who allows a child who is under the age of 18 to own a deadly weapon, or carry a concealed deadly weapon could be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
  • It is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to possess a handgun, unless the minor is attending a hunter or firearm safety course, practicing target shoot, hunting with a valid license, using the gun for lawful self-defense, on land which is under the control of a person over the age of 18 who gave the youth permission to have the handgun, or competing in a non-profit gun organization performance.
  • Using a firearm—or even displaying a firearm during the commission of a crime—can add an additional five years in prison to a person’s sentence.
  • If the person is a convicted felon, using a firearm—or displaying a firearm during the commission of a crime—can add an additional ten years in prison to a person’s sentence.
  • A convicted felon in the state of Mississippi may not possess a firearm, unless he or she has been pardoned, had the crime expunged, or has been relieved from disability.
  • Unless the gun is being used for self-defense, it is illegal in the state of Mississippi to display a deadly weapon in a “threatening manner” in the presence of another person.
  • It is illegal in the state to use a weapon unlawfully in a fight.

Getting Help for your Mississippi Weapons Charge

If you are attempting to protect your gun ownership rights, or are currently facing charges for violating a Mississippi gun ownership or firearm law, you need strong legal representation. Perhaps you have been found in possession of a firearm while on probation, or after being convicted for domestic assault or another felony. If so, you are facing more serious charges and, potentially, jail or prison time. An attorney who is passionate about Mississippi firearms laws and experienced in defending those accused of violating those laws is crucial at this juncture. Perhaps you are a typically law-abiding citizen who forgot to properly check your firearm at an airport security gate. There is little tolerance for such an offense, and you could be criminally charged for an honest mistake.

Perhaps you used your firearm in self-defense, however you are being charged with a crime. Any of these criminal offenses require a strong, experienced Mississippi criminal defense attorney who can ensure your rights are being protected, and that an honest mistake or an otherwise one-time mistake does not mar your entire future. Many people know how relaxed Mississippi gun laws are, therefore could make some assumptions that could potentially get them in legal trouble. If you are one of those people, contacting a Mississippi criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is the single most important thing you can do to protect your future. Don’t wait—you have a very narrow window of time to get the help you need.

Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are arrested and charged with a gun crime in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, you need to fight for your rights and protect your freedom. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced Jackson criminal defense attorney immediately.

At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for our clients and we can build a defense that is designed to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600, 1-877-231-1600, or via the form below. 

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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