State Watch

Mississippi school board removes policy barring people with guns on school campuses

The Mississippi Board of Education voted Thursday to repeal a policy barring guns in state public schools in order to comply with the state’s enhanced-carry law.

The Board voted to repeal a 1990 policy prohibiting “the possession of pistols, firearms, or weapons in any form by any person other than duly authorized law enforcement officials on school premises or at school functions.”

The Board ruled that the policy, which last underwent revisions in December 2015, conflicted with Mississippi’s 2011 enhanced-carry law, which authorizes individuals with the enhanced license to enter areas where those with a standard license cannot, including “any elementary or secondary school facility” and “any school, college or professional athletic event not related to firearms.”

The temporary policy requires “each local school district (to) have a policy concerning weapons on school premises.”

The Mississippi Free Press was the first to report on the Board ruling.

General Counsel Erin Meyer referred to an opinion issued in 2013 by then-Attorney General Jim Hood (D), which said that an individual with an enhanced concealed carry permit may carry a concealed weapon on a Mississippi public school campus. He noted that schools “may restrict individuals to parts of the campus generally open to the public.”

During the Board meeting Thursday, Meyer said the 1990 policy “predates any notable school shootings or the adoption of our enhanced carry permits.”

“This rule currently conflicts with Mississippi’s enhanced carry statutes, so the enhanced carry statute authorizes individuals who have the proper certification to carry weapons in certain areas that are enumerated in statutes,” she said. “That includes elementary and secondary school facilities, so our policy is currently in conflict with that. State board policies can’t prohibit something that is authorized in law.”

Today’s State Board policy update still requires local school districts to establish policies regarding weapons on campus, according to a statement from the MDE.

Brian McGarity, Director of the Department of Education Office of Safe and Orderly Schools, also spoke at the Board meeting. McGarity said he and other school officials have also held discussions to enhance school safety in the state, and aim to hold such discussions monthly. He said the talks will ensure that those allowed to carry weapons on campus “are held accountable.”

Updated at 8:46 p.m.

Tags Jim Hood Mississippi

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