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Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Allowing "Church" Carry
April 15, 2016
House Bill 786 was just signed today by Governor Bryant. This bill provides that:
The governing body of any church or place of worship may establish a security program by which designated members are authorized to carry firearms for the protection of the congregation of the church or place of worship, including resisting any unlawful attempt to commit a violent felony listed in Section 97-3-2(1) upon a member or other attendee in the church or place of worship or on the immediate premises thereof. A church or place of worship may establish a security program that meets the requirements of subsection (2)(b) of this section, and a member of the security program shall be immune from civil liability for any action taken by a member of the security program if the action in question occurs during the reasonable exercise of and within the course and scope of the member's official duties as a member of the security program for the church or place of worship. For purposes of this section, "church" or "place of worship" means only a bona fide duly constituted religious society, ecclesiastical body, or any congregation thereof.
It immunizes a person in a "security program" from civil liability should that person have to protect the congregation. (see underlined). Now, there are some additional requirements that need to be met in order to receive this immunity, so churches should follow the letter of the law when it comes to drafting policies and procedures for their teams. Churches should speak with a qualified attorney when drafting their policies and procedures so as to take full advantage of the law and to make sure they within the letter of the law.
Additionally, HB 786 provides:
(24) A license under this section is not required for a loaded or unloaded pistol or revolver to be carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster or in a purse, handbag, satchel, other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case if the person is not engaged in criminal activity other than a misdemeanor traffic offense, is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a pistol or revolver under state or federal law, and is not in a location prohibited under subsection (13) of this section.
Essentially we now have constitutional carry. However, we still have prohibitions on where one may carry a firearm, and the places off-limits for permitless carry are enumerated at subsection 13. It is still advisable to get your enhanced permit and take advantage of being able to carry in more places, plus the added benefit of bypassing a NICS check. The full text of HB 786 is here: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2016/dt/HB/0700-0799/HB0786SG.pdf