There is a great deal of confusion in Mississippi about whether a person can carry a concealed weapon on his person or in his car without a permit. Recently I asked the question on Facebook and there were many incorrect answers even from attorneys. I got interested in this topic after I spoke at a legal conference and I learned many of the attorneys present did not know the correct answer. The answer to this question is easy, though there is one grey area.
The relevant Law is found Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 97-37-1(2) which states as follows:
"It shall not be a violation of this section for any person over the age of eighteen (18) to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed in whole or in part within the confines of his home or his place of business , or within any real property associated with his home or business or within any motor vehicle."
You can immediately see that if you are over 18 you are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in your car at all times. Of course you may keep a weapon in your home. That was made clear by the United States Supreme Court when they struck down a Municipal Regulation barring the possession of weapon in a home. I question whether the 18 year old restriction would be constitutional, especially in a person's home, but that is not a discussion we need to delve into now. The same Code section goes on to state another exception for those engaged in "legitimate weapons-related sports activities." The law states:
"It shall not be a violation of this section for any person to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed in whole or in part if the possessor of the weapon is then engaged in a legitimate weapon-related sports activity or is going to or returning from such activity. For purposes of this subsection, "legitimate weapon-related sports activity" means hunting, fishing, target shooting or any other legal sports activity which normally involves the use of a firearm or other weapon."
So, what is the grey area from the above section? Well, it is obvious. If you are coming back from a shooting competition and you have a pistol in your belt and you go in a store a policeman is likely to arrest you for carrying a concealed weapon. If you are returning form a martial arts competition and you have small knives concealed on your body and one falls out in front of a law enforcement officer, he is probably going to treat it as a concealed weapon and you may be arrested. This happens every day all across Mississippi. The burden is put on the citizen to prove he/she was engaged in a legitimate sports related activity when his case comes up in court. Over my thirty (30) plus years practicing law I have had dozens upon dozens of cases where I defended a citizen for having possession of a concealed weapon. If you have it in your car you should not be arrested. If you get out of your car in an urban area you are probably going to have a problem if law enforcement sees you with the gun.
Is there anything you can do in order to carry a gun in public? The answer is yes. Mississippi allows an individual to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. This permit will allow you to carry the weapon on your person all the time regardless of whether or not you are engaged in a "legitimate sports-related activity." You have to fill out an application form which is obtainable from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. There are a number of prerequisites like being at least twenty one (21) years of age, not suffering from a mental infirmity, not being a convicted felon, ect. If you do obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon you will be happy to know that twenty five (25) other states will honor Mississippi's permit and allow you to carry the weapon. Of course as with any state or federal agency, there is a fee for obtaining the permit. That should come as no big surprise.
This is the basics of the law regarding carrying a concealed weapon. Perhaps the most important point may be your right to carry a concealed weapon while in your home or your car. This is very clear. I recommend you always keep your gun locked in a secure compartment in the car away from kids, that the gun not be loaded, and he bullets kept separately. I will blog sometime soon on the tragedy of kids deaths due to playing with weapons.
Merrida (Buddy) Coxwell is the Managing Partner of Coxwell & Associates, PLLC. Merrida has practiced for over thirty (3) years and has helped hundreds of people with criminal and civil problems. Coxwell & Associates, PLLC focuses its time and energy helping people who are seriously injured and who are charged with a criminal offense.