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Mississippi: Local Elected Officials Trying to Torpedo Pro-Gun Legislation, HB 314

Sunday, January 26, 2014

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After House Bill 2 finally became law last year, local officials in many cities and counties across the state over-reacted by passing far-reaching restrictions on where law-abiding citizens – including enhanced and regular carry permit holders – could possess firearms.  The language in HB 2 clarified the definition of “concealed” and re-affirmed the right to possess a firearm openly.  Following its enactment, the media was full of reports of local elected officials taking drastic steps to ban firearms from nearly all city or county-owned property.  Not only were some of these ordinances and actions clearly outside the scope of their authority under state law, they also ended up mostly impacting regular permit holders who had been carrying lawfully and responsibly in these locations since 1991.
      
In December of 2013, Attorney General Jim Hood (D) issued an opinion affirming that the state firearms preemption statute limits cities’ and counties’ authority to enact and enforce ordinances restricting both open and concealed carry, except under limited circumstances.  Attorney 
General Hood opined that a local government can enact and enforce an ordinance prohibiting concealed carry under a regular permit or open carry only at the following locations:

  • A public park or at a public meeting of the municipality or other municipal governmental body.
  • A political rally, parade or official political meeting.
  • A non-firearm-related school, college or professional athletic event.

The authority of cities and counties over enhanced permit holders is even more limited. Enhanced permit holders may carry in a “meeting place of a governmental entity or to a non-firearm-related school, college or professional athletic event" under the authority of the enhanced permit law.
     
Clearly, cities’ and counties’ ordinance-making powers are very limited under the state firearms preemption law, and yet dozens of illegal ordinances remain on the books that ban ALL firearm possession – open or concealed, licensed or not – from ALL city or county property.  In most cases, criminal penalties are established for violations of these illegal ordinances!
      
Some local governments have simply chosen to post all city and county-owned property off-limits to firearms. 
 These signs have created “self-defense-free zones” for persons issued permits by the state to carry for personal protection.  While the Attorney General’s opinion affirmed the authority of local governments to post signs on any property under their control to restrict access by regular permit holders, his opinion also pointed out that signage cannot be used by local governments to restrict entry by enhanced permit holders except in; police, sheriff or highway patrol stations, places of nuisance, detention facilities and prisons or jails.  Also, posting by local governments 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 non-firearm-related school, college or professional athletic events.)  The flurry of signs that have gone up all over the state on all city and county-owned property can really only legally impact regular permit holders – persons who had been lawfully carrying in most of these locations since 1991.
      
Last week we reported on House Bill 314 filed by state Representative Andy Gipson (R-77), which would clarify limits on the authority of municipalities and counties to restrict the carrying of 
firearms and also provide a legal remedy for citizens who are adversely impacted by local gun control ordinances enacted outside the scope of this authority. However, powerful associations of local elected officials are aggressively lobbying against HB 314, claiming it strips them of powers they don’t legally have.
      
It is critical that you contact your state Representative, as well as members of the House Judiciary B Committee, where HB 314 has been referred, and urge them to stop the proliferation of illegal local firearms ordinances across Mississippi by PASSING House Bill 314.  
Contact information for the House Judiciary Committee B can be found below:
      
Contact information for committee members and your state Representative can be found here.

    
House Judiciary Committee B

       
Representative Andy Gipson (R-77), Chairman
(601) 359-1541
agipson@house.ms.gov
       
Representative Kimberly L. Campbell (D-72), Vice-Chairman
(601) 956-5771
kcampbell@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Jeramey D. Anderson (D-110)
(855) 537-2639
janderson@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Willie Bailey (D-49)
(601)359-9311
wbailey@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Nick Bain (D-2)
(601)359-3338
nbain@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Charles Busby (R-111)
(228)769-0501 (W) 
cbusby@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Gary Chism (R-37)
(601)359-3364
gchism@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Dennis DeBar (R-105)
(601)359-2436
ddebar@house.ms.gov
  
Representative Deborah Butler Dixon (D-63)
(601)359-3339
ddixon@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Jeffrey S. Guice (R-114)
(601)359-2508
jguice@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Joey Hood (R-35)
(601)359-3339
jhood@house.ms.gov
    
Representative Kevin Horan (D-24)
(601)359-2438
khoran@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Timmy Ladner (R-93)
(601)359-2438
tladner@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Sherra Hillman Lane (D-86)
(601)359-9485
slane@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Sam C. Mims, V (R-97)
(601)359-3320
smims@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Alex Monsour (R-54)
(601)415-7274
amonsour@house.ms.gov
    
Representative John L. Moore (R-60)
(601)359-3330
jmoore@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Brad A. Oberhousen (D-73)
(601)359-2439
boberhousen@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Ferr Smith (D-27)
(601)359-9395
fsmith@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Tommy Taylor (R-28)
(662)843-8014 (H)
ttaylor@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Joseph L. Warren (D-90)
(601)359-3014
jwarren@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Jason White (R-48)
(601)359-2861
jwhite@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Patricia H. Willis (R-95)
(228)323-4225
pwillis@house.ms.gov
     
Representative Adrienne Wooten (D-71)
(601)359-2433
adrienneahooper@yahoo.com
     
Representative Henry Zuber III (R-113)
(601)359-3328
hzuber@house.ms.gov

  

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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.