12 News Investigates: Are gun shows contributing to culture of violence?

12 News Investigates

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In November 2020, 12 News asked Jackson Police Chief James Davis where he believes criminals are getting access to guns. While he didn’t know exactly where the guns were coming from, he did say complaints were coming from people who blamed gun shows.

With Mississippi being an open carry state, firearms do not have to be hidden, but gun owners need a permit.

Chaz Shepherd, who lives in Jackson, said he uses guns for protection and survival.

“It’s a .357 caliber gun made by Glock, and I bought me a 60 round magazine for my AR pistol. I have the sound thrower on there, which reduces the sound. I have the automatic sites, and I have a tactical zoom,” he explained.

Shepherd said if city leaders believe criminals are at gun shows, they should monitor the events. The man in charge of the Great Southern Gun and Knife Show said city leaders are welcome to attend.

“I’ve been hearing for years now about the police arresting somebody, and later that night, they’re already out. They’ve made bail they’ve already been released. The prosecutors are not going after them. So if they commit a crime, they’re already back out on the streets. Instead of gun shows, they need to blame the criminals,” said Shawn Bean, show director of the Great Southern Gun and Knife Show.

While he doesn’t support a universal background check, Bean said he would support the option to call the FBI.

“I would support a law with the option to do that, because I say I would sell it to a neighbor. I wouldn’t sell to someone I wouldn’t trust. But say it’s someone I didn’t trust, I would like to call in to the background system,” he explained.

Bean said there are only a couple of people who sell privately.

“But they’re going to keep good records, because they don’t want anything on them, coming back on them. So they keep records of who they sell it to. So if anything were to happen, they would have proof of sale. They don’t sell to anyone they get a bad vibe from.”

Gun issues are back in focus in Jackson after a record number of homicides in 2020. There have been more than 20 homicides in the capital city in 2021 due to gun violence.

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