What Does Mississippi’s Church Protection Act Do?
April 15, 2016 5:03 PM
BY DANA CRISWELL
After what has seemed to many a lifetime since HB 786 was first introduced in the House of Representatives, Governor Bryant signed The Church Protection Act into law this morning. At a bill signing ceremony surrounded by pro-gun legislators the governor signed his name on HB786 and Mississippi citizens became a little safer.
The new legislation carried the name “Church Protection Act” because its initial purpose was to aid churches as they build volunteer security teams. Many of us remember the anger we felt after hearing about the Charleston church shooting which to many has become known as the Charleston church massacre. This mass shooting took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, during a worship service. Since that incident, churches around the country have become aware of the dangers their members face while worshiping.
The recent violence aimed at churches has placed many on high alert.
“We now live in an America where you must be vigilant,” the Rev. E. Christopher Hill, the senior pastor at Potter’s House of Denver, said in an interview with the New York Times.
Mr. Hill encourages congregations everywhere to take security seriously, emphasizing that the times — and the country — have changed.
“You are not safe on a plane,” he said. “You are not safe in an elementary school. You are not safe in a high school. You are not safe in a movie theater. Guess what? You are not safe in a church.”
House Bill 786 doesn’t grant any new authority or ability to carry a gun in church. Enhanced Firearms Permit holders have always had the ability to carry a concealed firearm at church. (As a side note; I question the ability of the state to limit anyone's ability to carry a firearm on church property, because church property is private property.) The Church Protection Act signed by Gov. Bryant today gives volunteer church security members legal liability coverage in the event they use force or deadly force while carrying out their duties of protecting church members.
This does not mean that a church security member is not held accountable for their actions but if it is found that they acted responsibly and reasonably then they can not be held liable for those actions. The Church Protection Act may save a volunteer security team member from financial ruin for doing what was necessary to protect those worshipping.
The Church Protection Act Part 2 – Constitutional Carry
The legislative process often takes a circular route and this is certainly the case for constitutional carry in Mississippi. In January of this year I offered a two stand alone legislative bills that would add our state to the constitutional carry role. One of my bills, HB 1352 simply added a pistol or revolver carried in a holster to last years purse carry law, but the chairman of the House Judiciary committee had concerns over how many gun bills he could get passed on the House floor. So he took the church protection act and simply added constitutional carry language to the bill, and now that it has passed Mississippi is a constitutional carry state.
The actual constitutional carry language of the bill is;
A license (Firearms Permit 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.
Limitations on Non-Permittted Concealed Carry
There are places or areas where non-permitted concealed carry of a firearm is prohibited;
1. any place of nuisance as defined in Section 95-3-1
2. any police, sheriff or highway patrol station
3. any detention facility, prison or jail
4. any courthouse
5. any courtroom
6. any polling place
7. any meeting place of the governing body of any governmental entity
8. any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof
9. any school college or professional athletic event not related to firearms
10. any portion of an establishment, licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises that is primarily devoted to dispensing alcoholic beverages
11. any portion of an establishment in which beer or light wine is consumed on the premises, that is primarily devoted to such purpose
12. any elementary or secondary school facility; any junior college, community college, college or university facility unless for the purpose of participating in any authorized firearms-related activity
13. inside the passenger terminal of any airport
14. any church or other place of worship, except as provided in Section 1 of this act
15. any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law
16. any place in the discretion of the person or entity exercising control over the physical location of such place by the placing of a written notice clearly readable at a distance of not less than ten (10) feet that the “carrying of a pistol or revolver is prohibited.”
The Church Protection Act Part 3 – Protection Against Unlawful Executive Orders
SECTION 5. No federal executive order, agency order, law not enrolled by the United States Congress and signed by the President of the United States, rule, regulation or administrative interpretation of a law or statute issued, enacted or promulgated after July 1, 2016, that violates the United States Constitution or the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 shall be enforced or ordered to be enforced by any official, agent or employee of this state or a political subdivision thereof.
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Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant Signs NRA-Backed Permitless Carry Bill & Other Pro-Second Amendment Measures into Law!
Friday, April 15, 2016
Today, Governor Phil Bryant (R) signed House Bill 786 into law, despite months of misleading attacks by New York gun control advocate and billionaire Michael Bloomberg & his anti-gun state groups, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. NRA-ILA issued the following press release announcing that final executive action had taken place on the measure Friday morning. Thank you to those NRA members and Second Amendment supporters who contacted their elected officials in support of HB 786 throughout the legislative process!
House Bill 786 by State Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton) accomplishes the following:
• Expands current permitless carry options to include belt and shoulder holsters. (Legislation passed in 2015 authorized Mississippians who are eligible to possess a firearm under state and federal law to carry a pistol or revolver without a license in purses, handbags, satchels, other similar bags or briefcases or fully enclosed cases);
• Allows church authorities to develop security programs that designate enhanced carry permit holders or those with military or law enforcement backgrounds to protect places of worship and receive the benefits of existing protections under the state’s “Castle Doctrine” law; and
• Prohibits state or local enforcement of federal executive orders or agency regulations not approved by Congress which conflict with the Constitution of the United States or the Mississippi Constitution.
Mississippi became the ninth state to pass legislation recognizing a law-abiding adult’s ability to carry a concealed pistol or revolver for personal protection without government-mandated permitting or fees. The new law takes effect immediately.
Governor Bryant also recently signed two other NRA-supported measures into law: Senate Bill 2313, sponsored by state Senator Sean Tindell (R-Gulfport), which eliminates the redundant, unnecessary and rarely-enforced requirement that lawful owners of firearm sound suppressors register those items with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety; and House Bill 1300, sponsored by state Representative Joey Hood (R-Ackerman), which expands legal protections for shooting ranges in the state. Please take a moment to email Governor Bryant and thank him for taking final action on these measures!