Some Mississippi State-Owned Parks Still Prohibit Open Carry

Matt Vespa
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Posted: May 13, 2015 10:11 AM
Some Mississippi State-Owned Parks Still Prohibit Open Carry

Open carry has become the latest front in Second Amendment advocacy. It’s also a guaranteed way for these folks to have the police called on them. Nevertheless, it’s perfectly legal for these activists to exercise their constitutional rights. Right now, 11 states require a permit to open carry a handgun, 33 do not require a permit to open carry, and six prohibit the open carrying handguns–Texas being one of them though that’s hopefully going to change soon. In Texas, the open carrying of rifle and shotguns is permitted. In Virginia, some counties–Fairfax, Prince William, Loudon, Henrico, and Arlington, prohibits the open carrying of rifles to non-CHP (concealed carry) holders for a loaded rifle, with a magazine that can hold more than 20 rounds, can be equipped with a suppressor, and a folding stock. For shotguns, a non-CHP holder can’t open carry one that holds more than seven shells.

Yet, in Mississippi, it appears open carry is banned in some state-owned parks, despite state law stating otherwise (via Watchdog):

Allen Wright is parks director for the Waterway District. The district’s board of directors, he says, has maintained a no-gun policy for several years now.

“Right now, it’s policy that weapons aren’t allowed in the parks,” Wright said. “To allow someone to carry one on their hip and walk around the park with it, no, that’s just a recipe for disaster, in my opinion.”

Senate Bill 2862, signed by Gov. Phil Bryant in 2010, changed Mississippi law to allow people to carry guns in parks. The law removed the prohibition in Mississippi Code pertaining to guns in parks, except in the case of political rallies, athletic events not involving firearms or concerts. House Bill 2, passed in 2013 and upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court, allowed gun owners to legally carry their weapons in the open with a few restrictions.

State Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said the Pat Harrison Waterway District isn’t complying with state law, which doesn’t include parks as one of the protected areas — such as courthouses, police stations and jails — where open and concealed carry of firearms aren’t allowed. He said state law, which allows anyone older than 18 to carry a concealed weapon in their car or truck, trumps any restriction by the district board.

Granted, some folks are genuinely freaked out when they see a man, or a woman, carry their AR-15 rifle while they shop, get the mail, or walk around town. That’s their problem. Nevertheless, in the fight for the Second Amendment, I stand with the pro-open carry crowd in principle, though I’m more passionate about concealed carry legislation.

In 2011, Ron Avery, a former police officer and Director of Training for The Practical Shooting Academy, Inc., wrote in Police One about tips law enforcement officer should consider when confronting a person who is open carrying a firearm, but also included a word of advice to the private citizen exercising his constitutional rights:

A side note to the citizen carrying openly: You should expect to be contacted law enforcement. You should expect to be feared by some, and considered to be a person of interest to many. Understand that by wearing a weapon in the open, you raise the perceived threat level in the eyes of law enforcement and other citizens. Friendly behavior goes a long way. People key on behavior rather than the weapon. Most folks respond well to a smile, polite behavior or a warm hello rather than a cold stare. I recommend that approach. You will be surprised how many people respond in a positive manner when you do that. Actually, this holds true on both sides of an open carry discussion, contact, or encounter...

At the same time, you can still exercise your Second Amendment rights, still adhere to the law, and still protect yourself without drawing the attention of the public by having a permit allowing you to carry a concealed firearm.

Of course, always be sure to follow the safety protocols when handling your guns.