Thanks to the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Chairman of the Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee Giles Ward, the Mississippi Senate overwhelmingly approved three NRA-backed bills this week: Senate Bill 2212 by Senator Giles Ward (R-Louisville) corrects vague and problematic language in Mississippi’s firearm carry laws; Senate Bill 2048, also by Senator Ward, expands the opportunities for hunters to use crossbows in archery and primitive weapons seasons regardless of physical ability; and Senate Bill 2647 by Senator Briggs Hopson (R-Vicksburg) requires reporting of firearm-purchase disqualifying mental health records to the National Instant Check System. All three bills now move to the State House of Representatives where they will be assigned to an appropriate committee for further consideration.
SB 2212 addresses a recent opinion by state Attorney General Jim Hood (D) that has caused confusion and concern among carry permit holders and Second Amendment advocates. According to this opinion, it is now unlawful for both regular and enhanced carry permit holders to carry holstered, partially-visible pistols on their person. Additionally, any permit holder who temporarily or accidentally displays their pistol -- when removing or adjusting a suit jacket or sport coat, for example -- would be violating the law.
If enacted, SB 2212 would eliminate confusion by striking the phrase “in whole or in part” after the word “concealed” where it appears in Section 97-37-1 of Mississippi law prohibiting the carrying of certain firearms or other deadly weapons. It would also more clearly define the term “concealed” for carry permit holders and non-permittees alike. Without the proposed changes in SB 2212, Mississippi laws that are supposed to protect the right to carry firearms for personal defense instead set legal traps for otherwise law-abiding citizens: a firearm carried by a person without a carry permit cannot be obscured, and any part of a pistol carried by a permit holder cannot become visible. For more information on the pro-gun reforms included in SB 2212, click here.
SB 2048 would ensure that those hunters who lack the physical strength to use a compound bow would still be able to hunt during archery season with a crossbow. Experience in other states proves that allowing the unqualified use of crossbows helps to retain and recruit hunters at a time when hunter numbers are declining steadily nationwide. Retention of older hunters with diminished physical capabilities and recruiting youngsters is especially critical. Evidence in other states has shown that older hunters remain in the field years longer than they otherwise would if restricted to vertical bows. For youth who do not yet possess the strength to use a vertical bow with enough power to make clean and ethical kills, crossbows would allow them to go afield earlier and become additional lifelong archery hunters.
SB 2647 would require the state to report mental health adjudications, court-ordered commitments and other records to the federal NICS system that would disqualify someone from purchasing or possessing a firearm. The measure brings Mississippi into compliance with the NICS Improvement Amendments Act, makes the state eligible for federal grant money to improve recordkeeping and reporting, and recognizes that the existing federal background check system’s effectiveness is tied to the quality of the data contained in it. We appreciate Lt. Governor Reeves’ and Chairman Hopson’s focus on improving NICS over enacting more ineffective gun control proposals.
Thank you to all of the senators who voted to expand the rights of gun owners and sportsmen in the Magnolia State! Also, thank you to the NRA members who contacted their legislators. Your NRA-ILA will continue to keep you updated about further action but now is the time to contact your Representative and urge him or her to support these pro-freedom bills when they come up for a vote.