HATTIESBURG, MISS. - Mississippi university officials are in an uproar after a controversial gun bill made it past the House of Representatives this past week. House Bill 1083 would allow Mississippians who have an enhanced conceal permit to challenge the rules or policies of public places who do not allow firearms. These locations include schools, universities, courtrooms, and even the Mississippi state capital.
Many universities in Mississippi have already come out and said they are not for the bill. University of Southern Mississippi president, Rodney Bennett stated he traveled to Jackson to speak with members of the legislature to share his concerns about this type of policy change. Bennett also mentioned that the University of Southern Mississippi remains committed to providing a safe, productive and inclusive learning environment for each member of the USM community, and they will do all they can, within the law, to advocate for and ensure the safety of the USM students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
However, Mississippi State Senator John Polk says the most important part of the bill could be determining the difference between what is a public and private space.
"Texas has similar laws to Mississippi. We have some of the most lenient laws and Texas does too as far as gun carry, but they also even on their university campuses do a really good job of determining what is public and private space,” Polk said. “In fact, it is to my understanding even on the University of Texas or Texas A&M they have venues where guns are not allowed.”
Polk went on to mention what he believes the ultimate fate of the bill will be.
“I think there is a very good chance that it'll make it through,” Polk stated. “Now, whether it'll make it through as it currently stands... that's probably not going to happen. There will be some amendments to it."
The Senate must still pass this bill for it to move forward.