By: Sarah Ulmer

In the past week the House of Representatives passed what is teaming up to be quite the controversial bill. Authored by Rep. Andy Gipson HB 1083, the gun bill, would allow Mississippians who have an enhanced concealed carry permit to challenge the rules or policies of public places who do not allow firearms.

Those locations include schools, universities, courtrooms, and even the Mississippi state capital.  Rep. Andy Gipson in the MS Truth Journal responded.

The only thing House Bill 1083 does is to propose the following process for these lawfully trained licensees who encounter illegal agency gun rules or bans. The process under House Bill 1083, as approved by the Mississippi House of Representatives, is as follows as indicated on lines 149 through 181 of the bill:

(4) (a) A person licensed to carry a concealed pistol or revolver with the endorsement under Section 97-37-7, who is adversely affected by a rule, regulation, policy, or posted written notice adopted by an agency, entity, or person in violation of this section may file suit for declarative and injunctive relief against the agency, entity, or person in the circuit court which shall have jurisdiction over the location where the violation of this section occurs.

The bill has not gone unnoticed by IHL members, universities, and even the Southeastern Conference. Just hours after the bill was passed on the floor the SEC sent this letter to Ole Miss Chancellor Vitter and MSU President Keenum.

Universities have begun responding to the legislation and the potential implications that it could cause.

Sid Salter, Public Information officer from Mississippi State said, “Obviously one thing we are concerned about is that this not turn solely into a debate about enhanced concealed carry at athletic events.”

Salter said Dr. Keenum mentioned that many parents of students share concerns that this legislation could interject weapons into residence halls, classrooms, and offices of faculty and staff.

Here is MSU President Keenum’s official statement on the matter:

”I believe that a majority of the parents of the outstanding young people we are entrusted with educating and nurturing share my concerns about the passage of this bill and with it the introduction of firearms into our classrooms and our residence halls,” Keenum said.

Photo by Robert Jordan

The office of the Chancellor at Ole Miss released a statement as well. You can view it at:

Proposed Legislation’s Impact on our Campus

Other universities in the state have also released statements on their concern with the bill.

Delta State Statement on Gun Bill 

USM – Statement from Commissioner of Higher Education on HB 1083 

USM – Statement from the President

Salter ensured that the social media comments that this is the universities “assault on the 2nd amendment” is absolutely not accurate.  “Nothing could be further from the truth or more divorced from reality. MSU has a policy that clearly outlines how we deal with firearms, other explosive devices, weapons, on our campus,” said Salter.

He said there are two existing laws that prohibit firearms on university campuses, just as they do on elementary and secondary school campuses. Salter said that they acknowledge those laws, but they do acknowledge exceptions for law enforcement officers, and those with an enhanced carry endorsements. MSU allows those permit holders to carry in multiple locations on campus.

However, the line is drawn between public and non public space. Those include areas like academic buildings and offices, athletic facilities, healthcare facilities, and in pre-school areas.

“I think first and foremost MSU and other institutions would want the public to know that we have been respectful of enhanced carry except in these instances and we think we make a compelling argument of why weapons should not be carried in some of these areas,” said Salter.

However, not everyone is opposed to the legislation. The NRA is urging Mississippians to contact their Representatives and Senators to push the bill all the way through.

“The intent and purpose of the amendment was to allow concealed pistol permit holders to complete certain training requirements and be able to protect themselves in locations that were otherwise off-limits under the original concealed carry law (except courtrooms, police stations or jails, and places of nuisance.)  In other words, HB 506, as amended and passed into law, was designed to eliminate “gun-free’  zones for law-abiding citizens with an enhanced endorsement on their permits.

Rep. Gipson also stands by his legislation saying it does not interfere with the existing law, but ensures that individuals who spent the time to get these permits can carry their weapons wherever they see fit. Gipson says the bill is a matter of rights, the right to protect ones self and family.

Also, if you forgot, as the bill was being debated in the House Representative Young brought his own gun (and permit) and waved it around in front of lawmakers. He was quickly escorted out by the Sgt. at Arms.