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New Jackson ordinance to impose penalties up to $1K, jail, for parents of kids in gun crimes

·3 min read

The Jackson City Council adopted an ordinance Tuesday that would hold parents, guardians or custodians of minors under 18 convicted of gun crimes accountable.

The ordinance can also apply when minors are found to be illegally in possession of guns.

"This is a proactive measure," said Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks. "We have to stop the senseless gun violence."

Penalties of up to $1,000 or six months in jail can be imposed if the parents are found to have allowed a minor to obtain the gun recklessly or if the gun was stored unlocked and easily accessible.

The Jackson City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that would impose penalties on parents whose children commit crimes with guns.
The Jackson City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday that would impose penalties on parents whose children commit crimes with guns.

Exceptions to the ordinance are made in the event that the minor obtained the firearm through an illegal entry or the gun was stolen. Other exceptions include instances where the minor discharges the firearm in a lawful act of self-defense or in the defense of another person.

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Households will be required to keep firearms in a locked container inaccessible to any children living in the home, under the ordinance.

"We are going to do whatever we can to make our community safe," said Ward 5 Councilman Vernon Hartley.

The ordinance passed unanimously 7-0.

A second ordinance, spearheaded by Ward 7 Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay, provides for a 12-month moratorium on the issuance of new permits for bars and nightclubs in the Capitol Street area of the central business district.

The move comes after numerous instances of gun violence have left the district on edge. Video footage of people running from a bar near Capitol and Roach streets amid gunfire in May were widely circulated on social media. In one such instance officials said over 100 rounds were fired from a semi-automatic weapon during a time crowds were congregated outside.

Officials say the resulting media attention has been detrimental to the central business district's growth and presents a danger to people living in the area.

"I think we are at a place where the city needs to push the pause button and allow the to city planning department and council to get together to see how to address this moving forward," Lindsay said.

Under amendments adopted with the ordinance restaurants with full menus will be exempted, as will construction permits for improvements to existing bars and nightclubs.

The ordinance passed 6-0 with Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes abstaining.

Council members also voted to hire a new municipal judge and public defender to address backlog issues in the city's court system. Welcomed as the city's newest municipal judge was Virginia Watkins while Tim Howard will serve as the new public defender.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said felony arrests have been moving fairly smoothly through the municipal court system while misdemeanors have caused the biggest logjams.

"This has caused numerous problems for our police department and in the enforcement of our ordinances," Lumumba said.

Also during Tuesday's regular Jackson City Council meeting the council elected Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote as new council president.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Jackson ordinance penalizes parents of kids in gun crimes