Mississippi Schools Board Updates Policy, Clearing Way for Some Staff to Have Guns on Campus

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Reporter
Mimi Nguyen Ly covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com
July 25, 2022 Updated: July 25, 2022

Education officials in Mississippi voted on Thursday to remove a requirement that blocked guns in public schools. The move allows school districts in the state to determine their own rules on school security, including to potentially allow some staff to carry guns on campus.

The vote by the Mississippi Board of Education updates an internal policy adopted in 1990 that prohibited the possession of firearms and weapons in any form “by any person other than duly authorized law enforcement officials on school premises or at school functions.”

Jean Cook, director of communication for the Mississippi Department of Education, said that the policy update is “part of an ongoing review of State Board policies to make sure all are up to date and in compliance with current law.” She added that about 30 policies have been updated over the past six months.

Deputy Attorney General Michael Lanford said in a statement (pdf) that under state law, “A school district may, in its discretion, prohibit or allow its employees who hold enhanced conceal carry licenses to possess weapons at the school. In the alternative, a school district may, in its discretion, allow its employees with enhanced carry licenses to carry weapons and may expend funds for those employees to be trained for such purpose.”

He added: “Other persons with enhanced carry licenses may enter onto school facilities without violating the concealed weapons statutes; and may enter onto the public areas of those schools without being subject to a possible charge of trespass. School districts may bar persons, including persons with enhanced carry permits, from areas of the school to which the general public is not allowed.”

Policy Updated to Align with State Law

The Mississippi Board of Education determined that the 1990 policy conflicted with Mississippi’s 2011 enhanced conceal carry law, which allows people with enhanced gun licenses to enter premises they would not otherwise be allowed to access with only a standard gun license. Such premises include “any elementary or secondary school facility,” and “any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms.”

The latest vote means that any language from the 1990 policy that conflicts with Mississippi’s state law will be updated.

Erin Meyer, the education department’s general counsel, said during the board meeting on July 21 that the Mississippi law provides “local school districts with the authority and discretion to determine” its weapons policies. Under the law, school districts can decide for themselves whether or not school employees who hold enhanced carry licenses can bring guns onto school property.

Meyer had also noted that the 1990 policy “predates any notable school shootings or the adoption of our enhanced carry permits.”

The 1990 policy “currently conflicts with Mississippi’s enhanced carry statutes, so the enhanced carry statute authorizes individuals who have the proper certification to carry weapons in certain areas that are enumerated in statutes,” she said at the meeting, adding that, “State board policies can’t prohibit something that is authorized in [state] law.”

Mississippi is one of seven states that allow permit holders to carry guns in schools, according to Everytown, a gun reform group.

Several mass shootings have made national news again in 2022, including the shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; at a Fourth of July parade near Chicago, Illinois; and at a shopping mall in Greenwood, Indiana.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com