State Legislature debating guns in churches

House Bill 786 was approved by state Representatives and would accomplish three things:   (1) allows church authorities to develop security programs that designate enhanced carry permit holders or those with military or law enforcement backgrounds to protect places of worship, (2) ensures that these participants receive the benefits of existing protections under the state’s Castle Doctrine law; and (3) clarifies current permitless carry options for law-abiding citizens while maintaining the existing enhanced and regular concealed carry permitting systems.

The Mississippi Senate now takes up the bill for consideration.

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Gov. Bryant considering several bills

Gov. Bryant is carefully considering whether to sign Senate Bill 2161, an “anti-Common Core” bill. He is concerned that it doesn’t have any teeth but just makes recommendations that could be rejected by the Department of Education in favor of existing Common Core standards. Tea Party conservatives like Senators Chris McDaniel and Melanie Sojourner are pushing for a veto and a special legislative session to create a true alternative solution to Common Core.

The Governor has been more positive about a pair of pro-2nd Amendment bills, Senate Bills 2394 and 2619, which reduce concealed carry permit fees and allow weapons to be carried in fully enclosed cases (such as purses and briefcases) without a permit. Gov. Bryant has indicated that he will sign both bills.

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“Permit-less” concealed carry for purses passes House

[UPDATE: Post title originally indicated that the Senate passed the bill; the Senate has not yet passed the bill as of the time of publishing.]

Senate Bill 2394 was passed by the House on March 27th to allow concealed carry of a gun in “a purse, bag, handbag, satchel or other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case” without a concealed carry permit.  The Senate is expected to approve the bill and Gov. Bryant has already said he would sign it into law.

Rep. Andy Gipson, who helped kill a bill earlier in the session misleadingly advertised as “constitutional carry” (SB 2618), reiterated his commitment to meaningful 2nd Amendment legislation and added the language to SB 2394. Originally intended to reduce the fees for concealed carry permits, SB 2394 would also exempt active-duty military and service-disabled veterans from concealed carry permit fees. A concealed carry permit would still be required for reciprocity with other states.

Senate Bill 2619 also passed the House and would exempt active military, veterans, and retired law enforcement from the training requirements to obtain enhanced carry permits. It also seeks to nullify any federal ammunition bans like the recent bans considered by the BATFE.

Both SB 2394 and 2619 must be approved by the Senate before going to the Governor.

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House kills so-called “Constitutional Carry” bill

Senate Bill 2618, the so-called “Constitutional Carry” bill, was killed in the house this week. Rep. Andy Gipson argued that the bill was not fundamentally sound and did not strengthen gun rights in Mississippi where open carry, unlicensed vehicle carry, and concealed carry are already legal. Gipson stated the House “remains committed to passing good legislation that further supports and restores the Second Amendment rights of Mississippians. But [the House of Representatives] will do so independently of questionable organizations, in a manner that retains integrity and in a way that will not risk sacrificing the many gains we have made the last four years.”

Gipson has been a staunch gun rights proponent. Under his leadership in 2013, the House passed and the Governor later signed House Bill 2 which, Gipson stated, reflects what the Mississippi State Constitution Article 3, Section 12 already guarantees.  Specifically, House Bill 2 clarified the definition of concealed carry in Sections 45-9-101, 97-37-1, 97-37-15, and 97-37-19 of Mississippi state law.

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“Constitutional Carry” bills under fire

Rep. Andy Gipson and other gun rights advocates have come out against Senate Bill 2618 known as the “Constitutional Carry” bill. Constitutional Carry is the ability for citizens to carry a gun just because the U.S. Constitution preserves that right in the 2nd Amendment. According to Rick Ward, “That means no permit, no application, no background checks, no government approval, no fees, and no training requirement.”

Rep. Gipson says that the bill, passed by the Senate, was not a “constitutional carry” bill and identified  the following:

Section 1 of the bill as passed the Senate included a general prohibition on concealed carry of pistols, revolvers, and an assortment of knives and other types of weapons.

Section 2 of the bill as passed the Senate included the requirement under current law (Section 45-9-101) of a concealed carry license for the concealed carry of stun guns, pistols and revolvers. Subsection 13 of this provision prohibits concealed carry, even by licensees, in numerous prohibited locations.

House Judiciary B Committee has amended the bill submitted to them by the Senate into something Gipson says is better legislation. However the final product has not been voted upon by the House. The Senate will also have to vote on the new language.

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Right to Hunt & Fish on November Ballot

In addition to the elected officials that are on the ballot Nov. 4th, there is one statewide ballot measure proposing a constitutional amendment to preserve hunting and fishing as rights in the State of Mississippi.

The language on the ballot will read as follows:

This proposed constitutional amendment establishes hunting, fishing and the harvesting of wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, as a constitutional right subject only to such regulations and restrictions that promote wildlife conservation and management as the Legislature may prescribe by general law.

Yes ___
No ___

Very little opposition has been raised to the initiative (17 other states have similar amendments) but PETA and the National Council of State Legislatures believe hunting is on the decline although Mississippi is not one of those states.  The amendment will not affect the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks from licensing and regulating but is expected to preserve outdoor space for hunting and fishing.

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Rep. Gipson: Unapolgetically conservative

Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton) is an attorney and Baptist pastor.  And in her report in the Clarion-Ledger, Analysis: Gipson wields influence, Emily Wagster Pettus says he is one of the most influential lawmakers in the state.

As the chairman of the House Judiciary B Committee, he was influential in a number of bills including House Bill 585 (improve efficiency and costs of the state’s criminal justice system) and House Bill 1400 (banned abortion at 20 weeks).  He helped push through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Senate Bill 2681) in spite of all the opposition.

Gipson is a notably vocal opponent of gay rights since President Obama changed his stance on gay marriage in 2012.  He has remained a staunch opponent of gay rights even with calls for his resignation and the other pressures associated with taking a Biblical stand on a range of issues.

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