February 8, 2018 10:57:55 AM
Technically, the 2018 Mississippi Legislative Session began on Jan. 2.
In reality, though, the session doesn't really begin until Andy Gibson (R, NRA) pushes through some bizarre, unnecessary and potentially dangerous piece of gun legislation through the House of Representatives.
That day arrived Wednesday when a Gibson-authored bill (House Bill 1083) allowing concealed carry of firearms into the state's college arena, stadiums and sporting venues was passed by the House.
Gipson, along with 80 other representatives, including our own Gary Chism and Jeff Smith, voted for the bill under the theory, I suppose, that introducing guns into a mass of, temporarily insane, tail-gate-party-lubricated people who are convinced that the opposing team -- and most likely the game officials -- are tools of Satan is perfectly reasonable policy. What could possibly go wrong?
As the 81-29 House vote shows, the Mississippi Legislature never meets a gun bill it doesn't like.
So now it's on to the Senate. Typically, the Senate gets every bit as aroused over gun legislation as the House. Gun bills are legislative Viagra to these people.
But this time, Gipson may have gone too far, as hard as that might be to imagine.
Almost as soon as word of the House vote was announced, Mississippi State President Dr. Mark Keenum penned a letter to the legislature strenuously opposing the law and demanding it be altered to prohibit guns inside MSU sports facilities. The law, Keenum wrote, would harm the university, endanger spectators and could make Mississippi's college teams a pariah in the sports world. Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed that latter argument, writing a letter to Keenum and Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter that said teams might decline to play games in Mississippi on the grounds that the only shots that should be possible in a sporting venue are the shots the athletes take on the goal.
Gipson is a full-time Pastor, part-time legislator and 24/7 lackey for the gun lobby. His Greatest Gun Hits include a law that allows churches to arm themselves in the true spirit of Christ. He has outdone himself with this one, though, and you suspect he knows it. Gilbson tried to slither away from the criticism late Wednesday. It's not a law to allow concealed carry in sports venues, he insisted. It just allows people to sue a university if they can't. If that explanation doesn't make you spew coffee out your nose, nothing likely will.
Aside from the obvious point that this law benefits no one in any way, Gipson may have at long last met his match.
In a state where a Guns vs. Anything Else showdown almost always end with Guns winning, a Guns vs. College Football matchup is a whole different matter.
If Florida says it ain't going to go to Starkville to play football this September because of this new law, the full wrath of college football fans in this state will fall like an avenging angel on the head of any legislator who has had an hand in this.
Gary Chism and Jeff Smith have better look out. Sen. Chuck Younger, you're on notice.
Last year, the Arkansas legislature was set to pass a similar law when the SEC warned the state that passing the law would mean Arkansas fans would be going to the stadium on fall afternoons to watch the Razorbacks play with themselves since no other teams were up for being target practice.
The Arkansas legislature killed that legislation immediately.
Nobody could be that stupid, not even Arkansas.
Of course, this is the Mississippi Legislature we are talking about here.
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