By Ted Carter
The trend among gun fanatics of openly carrying assault weapons and other firearms into stores and restaurants could spread to polling places around Mississippi in November.
The key here is that gun owners must wear the weapon so it is visible to everyone, says Attorney General Jim Hood, who this week replied in the affirmative to a query on guns in the voting booth.
“The Legislature has given no authority to counties or municipalities by any statute to restrict open carrying of weapons into polling places,” Hood said.
He emphasized, however, that gun owners may have to ask permission of the property owner if the polling place is on private property such as a church. High security government buildings may also be off limits to gun toters.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange affirmed the right of Alabama voters to open carry guns into most polling places followed an Alabama Sheriffs Association plea to the state’s counties to keep unconcealed weapons from polling places.
Voting officials turned away several gun owners for bringing visible firearms into polling places. Attorney General Strange reacted after those entry denials.
Like Hood, Strange was empathic in his message to Alabama voters. “The state Legislature has already said where guns cannot be openly displayed and polling places are not on the list,” said in a statement published by the New York Times.
Mississippi treats the carrying of concealed weapons into polling places much differently than it does openly carried ones. “If a person with a regular gun permit carries a concealed weapon into any polling place, that person is violating state law,” Hood said.
However, owners of “enhanced” concealed weapons permits can legally take concealed weapons into polling places, he noted. “Counties and cities may not restrict this right.”
Enhanced permits require the gun owner to undergo specific weapons training.
Meanwhile, attempts by President Obama to require background checks on purchases of firearms at gun shows has led so-called Second Amendment advocates around the county to openly arm themselves and carry their weapons into stores such as Target, coffee shops and such restaurants such as Chipotles and Jack . While Texas, led by the group Open Carry Texas , or OCT, has been the site of most recent demonstrations by open-carry groups, other open carry demonstrations have taken place at Target stores in Alabama, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin and Virginia, USA Today reports.
After protests from the group , Target began asking the gun owners to quit bringing their weapons into the stores.
Even the National Rifle Association asked for a stop to the practice, saying, “Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners.”
However, the NRA took back the statement after open-carry groups criticized it.
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