The Mississippi Legislature adjourned sine die on Thursday, April 4, ending its 2013 legislative session. Yet again, gun owners and sportsmen made significant gains thanks to the strong support of House Speaker Philip Gunn (R), Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves (R), key committee chairmen and pro-Second Amendment lawmakers in both state legislative chambers.
Governor Phil Bryant (R) has already signed several NRA-backed pro-gun measures into law:
House Bill 2, by House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Representative Andy Gipson (R-Braxton) and State Senator Giles Ward (R-Louisville), makes critical clarifications to Mississippi’s gun carry laws. A 2012 state Attorney General’s opinion determined that it was unlawful under existing statutes for anyone to carry holstered, partially-visible pistols on their person. Additionally, any concealed carry permit holder who temporarily or accidentally displayed their firearm when removing or adjusting a suit or sport jacket would be violating the law. HB 2 revised the definition of concealed as it applies to the carrying of firearms by permit holders and non-permittees alike. Rep. Gipson distributed the following memo explaining the intent and effects of this legislation as passed and enacted, which you can access here. This new law takes effect on July 1, 2013.
House Bill 485, by House Judiciary A Committee Chairman and state Representative Mark Baker (R-Brandon), ensures that personal information regarding carry permit holders and applicants remains confidential and exempt from the Mississippi Public Records. This information is only to be released upon order of a court having proper jurisdiction over a petition for release of the record or records. Mississippi is among the 38 states that now provide such privacy protection for law-abiding gun owners.
The state Legislature also passed key mental health and school security measures while taking those important steps to protect your rights:
Senate Bill 2647, by state Senator Briggs Hopson (R-Vicksburg), requires 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. This 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 system’s effectiveness is tied to the quality of the data contained in it.
Senate Bill 2659, by state Senator Gray Tollison (R-Lafayette) on behalf of Lt. Governor Reeves, establishes “MCOPS” which is a grant program that will be administered by the Mississippi Department of Education to assist law enforcement agencies in providing additional School Resource Officers (SROs) to engage in community policing around primary and secondary schools.
Hunters and sportsmen will also now have more opportunities in the field thanks to enactment of Senate Bill 2048 by the chairmen of the Senate and House Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks Committees, Senator Giles Ward (R-Leake) and Representative Scott Bounds (R-Philadelphia). Effective on July 1, it will be legal for all residents and non-residents to hunt with the bow of their choice on all public, private and leased lands in the early archery season and in all other deer, turkey, and small game seasons (crossbows were already legal on State WMAs). In order to hunt with a crossbow now, hunters only have to purchase a single Sportsman's license or other appropriate hunting license. All bow hunters who choose to hunt with archery equipment outside of the special archery-only season must wear hunter orange in accordance with Section 49-7-31.1 of the Mississippi Code.