Fulton Police Chief Reggie Johnson said he doesn’t expect much of a change. The law isn’t new, just recently clarified. Itawambians have always been legally allowed to openly carry firearms. While the sudden spotlight on this old law may result in a slight influx in people openly carrying weapons, he said residents shouldn’t expect the City of Fulton to start looking like Tombstone anytime soon.
“There’s going to be a few isolated cases where someone wants to test us…test the system. Otherwise, I don’t anticipate there being much of a change,” he said.
Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson largely echoed the sentiment.
“It’s not going to cause us any problems,” he said. “We’ve always been open-carry; nothing has changed in Itawamba County, so it’s a moot point for us.”
Under the law, residents are allowed to openly carry a firearm as long as it’s holstered or otherwise not being used in a threatening manner. Federal and state properties — including the county’s schools, courthouse and post office — still restrict firearm possession. Whether or not a business allows a holstered weapon inside its doors is up to the owner.
“A manager has a right … to ask you to leave his premises because of that firearm, or to ask an individual to leave his firearm in his vehicle,” Johnson said, adding that the patron is then obligated to comply or face charges of willful trespassing.
He said businesses that didn’t welcome firearms should post signage stating such near their front doors.
A quick survey of several local businesses netted mixed opinions as to whether or not patrons would be welcome to carry weapons inside their doors.
“We discussed this situation earlier this week and decided that we would put up a sign [prohibiting firearms],” said Madonna McLain of Fulton’s ICON Photography. She added that they would feel intimidated by a customer openly carrying a firearm in their establishment.
Linda Higginbottom, co-owner of Discount Grocery, said much the same. She said she wouldn’t feel comfortable allowing firearms inside the store and plans to post a sign asking customers to leave them inside their vehicles.
On the other side of the fence, Jim Wright, owner of RJ’s Eatery in Fulton, said he very much welcomes people to carry firearms in his restaurant if they so choose.
“I’m all for it,” he said, also speaking of the law in general.
Several other area businesses owners who were asked said they were unaware of the clarified open carry law and didn’t have an opinion either way.