The intent of the measure was to clarify what is meant by “concealed weapon” in Mississippi. As a co-sponsor of the bill, I believe it accomplishes that goal.
First, Mississippians are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms in both the U. S. Constitution Bill of Rights and the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. There are some well-recognized reasons a person loses that right — a felony conviction, for example.
Years ago, lawmakers realized there was a need to limit people sneaking around with hidden guns. They perceived this as a danger to the peace and safety of citizens. So, they established the “concealed carry” law to dictate the terms under which a person didn’t have to show his or her weapon.
The trouble was, the way the law was written meant that unless a weapon was completely revealed, the gun owner without a concealed weapon permit could be charged with violating the law, as Attorney General Jim Hood pointed out in 2012.
House Bill 2 installed common sense into the “concealed carry” law to mean that if anyone is able to recognize that a person without a “concealed carry” permit is indeed carrying a gun, it is no longer a violation of the “concealed carry” law. In other words, if you see someone with a gun in a holster, you would likely realize there was a gun in the holster, so the bearer would not be charged with concealing his or her weapon without a permit.
When we dissect the previous condition of the “concealed carry” law, it is no wonder that a common-sense clarification was needed.
Attorney General Hood recently issued an opinion on House Bill 2, which served to clarify many other questions that have arisen concerning the measure.
For example, the State recognizes that there are just some places where guns shouldn’t be allowed — schools and churches, for example.
It also recognizes that there are other “sensitive places” in communities and provides that local governments should designate these places, so that guns would not be allowed in those places.
County sheriffs have the right to determine whether or not guns are allowed in the courthouses.
Further, private property owners are allowed to ban weapons on their property, no questions asked. And, it is always illegal to brandish a weapon in a threatening manner or threaten another person with a gun in any way.
Because keeping and bearing arms is a constitutional right, law enforcement officials cannot stop a person simply because he or she is carrying a gun. This was pointed out in the Attorney General’s recent opinion.
These are all issues that have been discussed in the public spotlight in recent weeks.
I hope that this column has helped explain the benefits of House Bill 2 and clarify some questions and concerns.
Those of us who worked on this measure are very proud we helped clarify the “concealed carry” law, and preserved our right to keep and bear arms.
(Nick Bain of Corinth is state representive for House District 2 which includes Alcorn County. To reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 662-287-1620.)