Here we go again. Another state government in SEC country is trying to pass a bill that would make it easier to bring guns into sporting events.
This latest state is Mississippi. And as you can imagine, the SEC itself is very against the idea of guns at its sporting events. Commissioner Greg Sankey wrote a letter to the leaders of Mississippi and Mississippi State on Wednesday noting that other teams in the conference would consider not playing games at either of the two state schools and that it supports a sporting-event exemption to the bill.
“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 wrote. “If HB 1083 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. When similar laws have been introduced in the past, the SEC office has received clear statements of concern from our member universities due to safety concerns associated with the passage of such laws intended to allow weapons at our athletic events and sports venues.”
HB 1083 passed with an overwhelming majority in the Mississippi House of Representatives. The bill, if passed into law, would allow those with enhanced-carry permits in the state to file a complaint and potentially sue to bring in weapons into public places like courthouses and state-school sporting events where those weapons are typically banned.
“This gives enhanced carry holders the right to challenge some of these policies, but there is no change in the law with this,” Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said. “… Certain agencies have adopted and put into place policies, rules and signs that do not follow the law we’ve had since 2011. This provides a process for enhanced holders to challenge.”
If someone feels a public-property ban against weapons doesn’t correspond with the existing Mississippi state laws, the enhanced permit carrier would have the opportunity to file a claim with the state attorney general’s office and then potentially file a suit.
“We have a fundamental responsibility to protect our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus. In recent years, the Mississippi Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning adopted policies to allow concealed weapons into ‘public’ venues on campus, but has not allowed firearms into areas determined ‘non-public’ such as classrooms and residence halls. We have great concerns about the prospect of a broad expansion of the existing IHL policies regarding firearms being brought onto campus because of the increased risk it would pose for every member of our campus community.
”I believe that a majority of the parents of the outstanding young people we are entrusted with educating and nurturing share my concerns about the passage of this bill and with it the introduction of firearms into our classrooms and our residence halls.”
Arkansas passed a law in March that would have allowed concealed weapons at sporting events starting Sep. 1. But not long after the bill passed, an amendment to the law was drafted to make sporting events exempt from the law.
As you know — or should know, anyway — from your government civics class, the passage of the bill in Mississippi does not mean it’s close to being official. The Mississippi Senate also has to pass it and then it would need to be signed into law. Given the SEC’s lack of support, we’re hoping and guessing sporting events in the state will continue to be gun-free going forward. We’ll see how the Mississippi legislature reacts.
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