As hundreds gathered at the Mississippi Trade Mart this weekend for an annual gun show, Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes hosted a protest as gun violence continues to soar in the capital city.

Several gun shows are held each year at the Mississippi Trade Mart, where vendors can sell firearms. Critics of the shows say that firearms are easily purchased at these events, and vendors rarely adhere to background check processes. Jackson city leaders have discussed banning such events in the city, but the event is hosted at the Fairgrounds, which is managed by the state of Mississippi government.

Stokes and a few others, including family members of homicide victims, protested the event on Sunday near High Street.

“It is not right that they have these gun shows with gun violence out of control,” Stokes said. “How’re you going to have 40 murders by April, then turn around and have a gun show in April?”

There have been 40 homicides in the city of Jackson so far in 2021, according to a WLBT tracker, which is at least 10 homicides ahead of where the city was at this point last year. Jackson saw 128 homicides in 2020 — the most of any year on record. Most recorded homicides are gun-related.

Back in August, Jackson City Council President Aaron Banks wrote an op-ed about banning the shows in the city, spurring reaction from a barrage of statewide Republican officials promising to defend “Second Amendment rights.”

“The show must go on,” Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson said at the time. “… Matter of fact, I don’t believe the City of Jackson can ban gun shows anywhere because of our state law. I helped write those laws in the Legislature.”

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