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Mississippi Attorney General Opinion Clarifies Municipalities' & Counties' Authority To Regulate Open And Concealed Carry

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Last week, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D) issued an opinion affirming that the state's firearms preemption statute limits cities' and counties' authority to enact and enforce ordinances restricting open carry and concealed carry, except under limited circumstances, but also upholds their right to post signs prohibiting permit holders from entering property under their control.

General Hood opined that a municipality can enact and enforce an ordinance prohibiting concealed carry under a regular permit or open carry only at the following locations: (1) a public park or at a public meeting of the municipality or other municipal governmental body; (2) a political rally, parade or official political meeting; or (3) a nonfirearm-related school, college or professional athletic event.  A city cannot prohibit enhanced permit holders from carrying in a "meeting place" of a governmental entity or to a nonfirearm-related school, college or professional athletic event because they are authorized to do so under the enhanced permit law.

However, this opinion also affirms the authority of local governments to post signs on any property owned or controlled by the county or municipality and restrict access by regular permit holders.  Signage can be used by local governments to restrict entry to county or city property by enhanced permit holders, but not in any of the so-called "prohibited locations" enumerated in the concealed carry law; exceptions would be places of nuisance, police, sheriff or highway patrol stations, detention facilities, prisons or jails.  Posting cannot be used to ban open carry on public property, except where the firearms preemption law allows (public parks, public meetings of a city, county or other governing body, political rallies, parades, or other official political meetings, or nonfirearm-related school, college or professional athletic events.)

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.