While most Mississippians were aware that, beginning July 1, 2015, the State no longer requires motorists to annually renew their vehicle’s inspection stickers, July 1stalso ushered in a new wave of laws impacting gun rights within the State. And, as with the passage of the much more publicized “Open Carry Law” in 2013, Mississippi’s businesses and employers must be aware of the potential implications of our state’s newest gun laws.
On April 10, 2015, Governor Phil Bryant signed 2015 Senate Bill 2394—sponsored by Senator Terry Burton (R. Newton)—into law. Dubbed the “Purse Carry Law” for short, beginning on July 1, 2015, Bill 2394—now codified in Mississippi Code Annotated §45-9-101(24)—creates a broad exception to the State’s existing “concealed carry permit” requirements. Specifically, the new law states that Mississippi citizens are not required to obtain a concealed weapon license/permit in order to carry a “loaded or unloaded pistol or revolver” in a “purse, handbag, satchel, other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case.” Prior to the passage of this law, carrying a pistol or revolver in such a “fully enclosed case” qualified as carrying of a concealed weapon, for which Mississippians were required to obtain a license or permit.
The “Purse Carry Law” follows on the heels of the Legislature’s passage of the State’s “Open Carry Law.” Passed in 2013, the State’s Open Carry Law amended several sections of the Mississippi Code in an effort to provide further “clarification” as to what qualified as a “carrying a concealed weapon” (which requires a license/permit), as opposed to what qualified as “open carrying of a firearm” (which does not require a license/permit). While proponents of the Open Carry Law argued that the legislation merely “restated the right to bear arms as provided by the Mississippi Constitution,” opponents worried about the effects the Law would bring. Set to take effect on July 1, 2013, the Open Carry Law was initially blocked from taking effect due to a restraining order issued by Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd. Following the receipt of wide-ranging support of the Law—including support from Governor Bryant, about 80 state lawmakers and the National Rifle Association—the Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously overturned Judge Kidd’s restraining order on August 29, 2013, allowing the Law to take effect state-wide.
When combined, the Open Carry Law and Purse Carry Law provides Mississippi citizens with the right to “openly carry” a pistol or revolver, including in a sheath or holster that is only partially visible, and the right to “conceal carry” a pistol or revolver in an enclosed bag, completely concealed from view. For business owners and employers, these laws mean that Mississippians generallyhave the right to enter your place of business with a weapon in plain view, in partial view and possibly even completely concealed from view—and all without the requirement of a Mississippi license or permit.
For businesses that wish to limit the public’s general right to carry weapons on their premises, Mississippi’s Attorney General’s Office continues to emphasize the posting of a clearly written notice (readable from a distance of at least 10 feet) that the carrying of a pistol or revolver is prohibited on your premises. Individuals who bring a firearm onto a private business with such a sign clearly posted are subject to prosecution for criminal trespass. Additionally, employers are encouraged to take additional steps by insuring that their employment policies clearly express any company prohibitions concerning employees bringing firearms (and other weapons) onto company property.
This Newsletter is a publication of the Labor and Employment Department of the law firm of Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes located in Jackson, Mississippi. This Newsletter is not designed or intended to provide legal or professional advice, as any such advice requires the consideration of the facts of the specific situation.
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