AG Hood: Hidden guns OK on campus, with enhanced permit

October 3, 2013 9:35:48 AM



JACKSON -- A person with an enhanced concealed-carry permit -- the kind that requires firearms training -- may legally take a concealed weapon onto parts of public school campuses that are generally open to the public, but not onto parts of campus that require permission for access, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in a nonbinding legal opinion this week. 


That means the enhanced permit holder could take a concealed weapon to a gym or football field, for example, but not to a parent-teacher conference. 


Mississippi issues two types of concealed-carry gun permits. The enhanced permit requires firearms training, while the standard concealed-carry permit does not require training. 


State law says a person with a standard permit may not carry a concealed weapon while in certain places, including "any school, college or professional athletic event not related to firearms." 


In 2011, legislators updated the law to create enhanced permits. The updated law says a person with an enhanced permit may carry a concealed weapon even in places where concealed weapons had been specifically banned for a person with a standard permit. 


Hood said some officials sought advice from his office because they were confused about whether guns would be allowed on public school campuses. The attorney general's office issued the opinion Monday in response to a question from Scott Cantrell, superintendent of the Monroe County schools. Hood's office provided a copy of the opinion on Tuesday to news organizations, including The Associated Press and the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. 


Although legal opinions from the attorney general's office are not binding, they provide guidance to public officials as they do their jobs. 


"We discussed with you on the phone a potential situation where an armed parent and enhanced license holder wishes to meet with a teacher or administrator about what the parent feels is an unfair discipline or grades given to the parent's child; the teacher or administrator does not wish to meet with the parent while armed," the opinion said in response to Cantrell. "Although an enhanced licensee may carry into the public areas of a school facility, the enhanced license does not authorize him to enter onto parts of property where the public is not generally allowed." 


The attorney general's opinion also says a school board may prohibit school employees who have enhanced permits from possessing weapons on campus -- or, boards may allow employees with enhanced weapons to carry weapons and may also spend public money for employees to get firearms training to obtain such a permit. 


The opinion says private property owners may ban the carrying of concealed weapons on their property, even if the hidden weapon is carried by someone with an enhanced permit. 


Records listing the name and address of concealed-carry permit holders used to be public record. Legislators this year closed that information, saying they didn't want gun owners to be harassed by having their names published.