Big changes coming to Mississippi concealed carry laws, M855 protected

Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is reportedly anxious to sign gun reform measures that passed the state legislature last weekend. (Photo: Jackson Clarion Ledger)

Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is reportedly anxious to sign gun reform measures that passed the state legislature last weekend. (Photo: Jackson Clarion Ledger)

Magnolia state lawmakers are looking to Gov. Bryant to sign a set of measures headed his way that would lower the cost of carry permits, allow a number of exemptions and safeguard controversial ammunition.

The pair of bills, which originated in the state senate, passed by huge margins in the deep red state and stand to drop the price of CCW licenses by 20 percent while disabled vets, those who carry in purses or bags, and active duty military will be exempt from having to get a permit. Additionally, M855 “green tip” ammunition will be granted protection under state law.

“Today the Mississippi House of Representatives passed two significant pieces of legislation further supporting the Second Amendment, and improving our State laws regarding the existing rights of Mississippians to keep and bear arms,” said noted Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, in a statement.

The two bills, SB 2394 and SB 2619, were approved in the state legislature by overwhelming votes, with the former passing the Senate 48-3 and the House 107-10, while latter bill only received a single nay vote cast against it.

SB 2394 will drop the fee for new concealed carry permits from $100 to $80 and renewals from $50 to $40. This figure, providing the state police’s $32 fingerprint fee remains unchanged, would translate to a total cost of permits to Mississippi’s concealed carriers of $112 and $72 respectively.

According to a 2014 study conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center, the price of concealed carry permits varied greatly nationwide from as low as $10 in South Dakota to $150 in Illinois, making Mississippi’s one of the highest. The study subsequently found that each $10 increase in fees reduces the percent of adults with permits by about a half a percentage point.

Besides slashing the costs of the state’s permits, the bill also aims to decriminalize carrying a concealed handgun in a purse, bag, handbag, satchel, other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case without a permit.

“Most ladies don’t want to carry a gun on their hip for the world to see,”Gipson said. “Men may, but ladies may not.”

Finally, SB 2394 allows disabled veterans and active duty military to carry without acquiring a permit.

The second measure, SB 2619, will allow both current and former service members to substitute their military service for the state-required eight-hour training course to obtain the enhanced carry endorsement. In Mississippi, permit holders that complete the training course and receive an endorsement can bring their handguns everywhere except for police stations, jails, courtrooms and federal property regardless of gun free zone signs.

An additional aspect of the legislation is protecting M855 ammunition in the state, precluding any potential ban implemented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“The bill also addresses the problem created last month by the federal ATF’s attempt to reclassify ‘green tip’ rifle ammunition as armor piercing ammunition,”Gipson said. “Under SB 2619 Mississippians owning this ammunition will remain legal to possess it regardless of the ATF’s future actions.”

The road from the Capitol to the Governor’s Mansion is wide open for the legislation.

In a statement posted Sunday night to the governor’s social media page, Gov. Phil Bryant advised he is warming up his signing pen for the measures.

“The House and Senate have agreed on Senate Bill 2394, which will allow ladies to carry a weapon in a handbag or other bag without having to have a concealed carry permit,” he said. “I look forward to signing this bill into law.”

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