State, campus leaders respond to House of Representatives passing concealed carry bill

Posted on Feb 8 2018 - 7:59am by Staff Report

Mississippi just got one step closer to allowing concealed carry on college campuses.

The Mississippi House of Representatives passed House Bill 1083 Wednesday morning. The bill, if passed by the Senate, would allow weapons on college campuses in places like classrooms or athletic events. This would override the IHL policy prohibiting guns in non-public campus areas.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter released a statement Wednesday afternoon urging the state leaders and legislators involved to consider the negative implications this bill would have on the Ole Miss campus.

“If this bill were to pass, it would negatively impact the University of Mississippi’s ability to continue to uphold the safety and security for our students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors on all our campuses — the Oxford campus, our regional campuses, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center,” Vitter said.

Vitter called for the state to allow university campuses the authority to prohibit guns in non-public places on campus.

In a letter released Wednesday, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey warned Vitter and Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum of the possible repercussions of this decision.

“Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases meaningful safety concerns and is expected to negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics programs at your universities in several ways,” Sankey said.

Sankey noted that if the bill became law, it could be detrimental to athletic programs in the state.

“If HB1083 is adopted to permit weapons in college sports venues, it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi’s universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively impacted,” Sankey said in the letter.

In a statement, Glenn Boyce, commissioner of Higher Education, said the bill could compromise safety on campuses.

“HB 1083 compromises our ability to protect and ensure the safety of those on our campuses because it nullifies and prohibits any policies and/or authority to designate sensitive areas of campus where weapons should not be allowed.”

Last month, some Associated Student Body senators mentioned plans to propose a bill allowing concealed carry of weapons on campus.

ASB Vice President Elam Miller said there are no concrete plans for this bill yet.

“I’ve talked to senators that have been in the works with this idea, and I know that they haven’t drafted anything and aren’t planning to do anything with it until it passes through the state Senate,” he said.

Miller said the ASB Senate has a rule that proposed legislation must be legally possible before it can pass through ASB Senate.

“Since this hasn’t passed through the state Senate, it is currently impossible,” he said.

Miller also said the ASB Senate has not yet had a chance to discuss HB 1083 since its Tuesday night meeting.

Miller said that ASB Senate has a rule that legislation must be possible before it can pass through ASB Senate.

“Since this hasn’t passed through the state Senate, it is currently impossible,” he said.

Miller also said that ASB Senate has not yet had a chance to discuss this since their Tuesday night meeting.

As of now, a person must be at least 21 years of age, have no felonies on his or her record, and not “chronically or habitually” abuse controlled substances to obtain a concealed carry permit. Those in the U.S. Armed Forces may start carrying at age 18.

The bill passed in the House this morning updates House Bill 506, passed by the Mississippi Legislature in 2011, that allows both individuals who undergo specific training and all public defenders to carry concealed weapons.

There are two main types of concealed carry laws in Mississippi: Standard and enhanced.

The state’s standard concealed carry law, allows users who pass a background check to carry a concealed weapon in certain places, but there are strict parameters on the locations in which they can legally carry.

The 2011 bill says to obtain an enhanced concealed carry permit, individuals must complete a safety course with a certified instructor from a nationally recognized organization that specializes in firearms training. Individuals with this permit can take their weapons with them into public spaces, like college campuses, whereas those with the standard permit cannot.