Wednesday, February 7, 2018
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi residents with a certain type of gun license could sue governments under a bill passed Wednesday by the House.
House Bill 1083 , which goes to the Senate for more debate, seeks to deal with judges, public universities, public schools and others who are defying a 2011 law that lets people carry guns almost anywhere on public property after taking a training course and getting an enhanced concealed carry license.
"These are the safest people in a state when it comes to concealed carry," said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, arguing that the additional training makes the enhanced permit holders safer than typical concealed carry-permit holders. Governments can ban most people who carry guns from a wide range of places.
Gun rights supporters have complained for years that some entities are ignoring the law. The license, for example, allows people to carry guns in hallways of courthouses. Judges and county supervisors, though, have largely retained absolute bans on guns in courthouses.
"It's a citizens' bill," Gipson said. "We're addressing the concerns of our citizens."
The measure creates a process to challenge bans. The attorney general's office would be required to investigate written complaints within 30 days. If the agency didn't stop violating the law, a person could then sue.
Others, though, argued that even trained gun owners pose threats in courthouses or at sporting events.
"There are other citizens you're apparently forgetting about," said Rep. Rufus Straughter, a Belzoni Democrat.
Gipson noted that the vocal opponents of Wednesday's bill had voted for the original law in 2011. He said the measure is meant to make sure people can defend themselves.
"They should have the right to carry to protect themselves and their family," Gipson said.
Some Democrats, though, opposed Gipson, who has brought out a stream of pro-gun bills, of political posturing on behalf of the National Rifle Association.
"It's about NRA, A or F, which rating do you want to have?" said Rep. Steve Holland, a Plantersville Democrat. Holland said his mother carries a handgun while serving as a Lee County Justice Court judge.