Article III, § 12 of the Constitution of the State of Mississippi states: “[t]he right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the Legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.”
There is little case law on this subject.
In a 1902 case, Wilson v. State, the Supreme Court of Mississippi rejected a challenge under the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, section 12 (identical to the current article III, § 12) to a former law forbidding the carrying of a concealed weapon in the home.1 The defendant testified that he was acting in defense of property because on nights previous to the violation a window had been broken and chickens on his property had been disturbed.2 The court found this testimony insufficient to support the claim that the defendant was acting in self-defense.3
In James v. State, the Supreme Court of Mississippi held, in 1999, that Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-5, which prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms, did not violate article III, § 12.4 The court reviewed legal authority from other jurisdictions concerning their exercise of police power in limiting state constitutional provisions that guarantee a “right to bear arms.” Following this review, the court found that the right to “keep and bear arms” in Mississippi is not absolute, but subject to reasonable exercise of the police power.5 Further, the court emphasized that “[i]n limiting the possession of firearms by those persons who have been shown to present a threat to public safety, peace and order, the state is reasonably exercising its power to protect in the interest of the public.”6
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- 33 So. 171 (Miss. 1902).
- Id. at 171-72
- Id. at 172; but see Patterson v. State, 170 So.2d 635, 638 (Miss. 1965) (holding that an individual, on a legitimate journey which took him beyond the scope of his friends, related solely to his business, did not violate any statutes related to the carrying of a concealed weapon).
- 731 So.2d 1135 (Miss. 1999).
- Id. at 1137.