June 2, 2016 10:51:20 AM
It is still possible to encounter "No Guns Allowed" signs around the area. You just won't see them at any county-owned buildings.
Lowndes County supervisors voted Tuesday to remove "No Guns Allowed" signs from county-owned buildings on the recommendation of Board Attorney Tim Hudson.
Hudson made the recommendation after being notified of a recent Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's opinion that states signs banning guns from public buildings are a violation of state law. The reason: State law allows gun-owners with proper permits to carry firearms in public buildings.
"This ruling applies only to public buildings,'" Hudson said. "A private business owner still has every right to ban guns and post signs that say no guns are allowed."
Oktibbeha County removed its "no guns" signs at the first of May, said Oktibbeha County administrator Emily Garrard.
"The attorney general's opinion was pretty clear," Garrard said. "Our signs were in violation of the law, so we took them down. There is some thought that we could put up signs as long as they had the proper wording, but we really haven't researched it to the point where we know what the proper wording would be."
The possibility of replacing the current signs with signs that comply with the AG's opinion also emerged among Lowndes County supervisors.
"It could be that we post signs that say, 'No guns allowed while court is in session,'" said Board President Harry Sanders.
Ultimately, though, no proposal for amended signage was made.
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said the county has yet to respond to the AG opinion.
"I'm sure that's the board of supervisors will be taking up in their next meeting (June 6)." Scott said. "Right now, we do have some signs that say, 'No Weapons Allowed.'"
The subject first emerged in Lowndes County last fall when Chancery Judge Dorothy Colom issued an order for two security officers to be placed at all courtroom entrances when court was in session.
Then, as now, the courthouse has two officers stationed at the entrance. To comply with Colom's order, as many as 16 officers could potentially be needed when all four courts were in session.
Faced with that prospect, the supervisors passed a proposal that said the courthouse was an extension of the courtroom, which meant no gun would be permitted in any part of the courthouse, thus alleviating the necessity of adding extra security as requested by Colom.
A month later, Jackson-based gun-rights activist Rick Ward appeared before the supervisors to tell them their act was in violation of state law because only the courtrooms themselves could be designated as gun-free zones.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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