JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI) filed a lawsuit against Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba’s order that temporarily suspends open carry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of State Rep. Dana Criswell. MJI said the order is unconstitutional.

“A serious pandemic is not an opportunity for unconstitutional virtue signaling by grandstanding politicians,” said Aaron Rice, the Director of MJI. “Mayor Lumumba has exploited the present public health crisis as a pretext to target law abiding people who are exercising their constitutional rights.” 

“As a citizen of the great state of Mississippi who has regular business in our capital city of Jackson, I was shocked by the recent announcement by Mayor Lumumba,” said Criswell. “I take the protection of myself and my family very seriously and believe deeply in the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The mayor’s attempt to disarm me and deny me the ability of self-defense puts me and my family in danger anytime we are in Jackson.”

MJI said the U.S. Constitution and the Mississippi Constitution protect the right to openly carry firearms in public for self-defense, as do Mississippi statutes.  The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Mississippi.

Mayor Lumumba addressed his decision to issue the order on Monday.