Mississippi lets schools set their own gun policy

The Mississippi Board of Education is giving public schools the go-ahead to develop their own policies regarding properly licensed concealed carry.

Mississippi has an “Enhanced Transportation Permit” that allows transportation in normally off-limits areas, including schools, but since 1990 the school board has had an internal policy prohibiting anyone outside law enforcement from transporting in a public school. However, at the end of last week, the council determined that the policy conflicts with state law of 2011 on enhanced transportation permits, opening the door for different schools to have different policies.

“A school district may, at its discretion, prohibit or permit its employees holding an enhanced concealment carry license to possess weapons at school,” said Jean Cook, communications director for the Department of Education. from Mississippi, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The council also noted that the old 1990 policy “predates any notable school shootings”, but since then addressing school shootings has become a burning issue. The horrific attack on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, by a gunman in May drew national attention and fierce debate about how to prevent future massacres. Mississippi’s move makes it the latest state to consider arming teachers or school staff as a possible solution and could provide momentum for other states to adopt the policy.

Additionally, public schools in Mississippi have the ability to train employees in the use of firearms with state funding. Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt welcomed the idea of ​​allowing teachers and other staff to conceal carrying at school to protect students, noting the recent spate of incidents of mass shooting.

“Not only will they serve as a practical deterrent against those contemplating acts of evil, but if someone still tries to attack a school, these policies will help neutralize the threat and mitigate any loss of life,” Pratt said.

Cook said the council’s decision was not driven by ideology and was undertaken as part of an ongoing review of state policies.

“[The policy update is] as part of an ongoing review of State Board policies to ensure they are all up to date and compliant with applicable law,” Cook told The Associated Press. “About 30 policies have been updated in the last six months.”

Mississippi will now be one of seven states to allow licensees to carry a firearm on school property, according to the gun control organization. Everytown for Gun Safety, and not everyone likes the proposal. Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, expressed skepticism that teachers could receive the proper training to advocate for students.

“I don’t know if we can find the time in teachers’ schedules to train them to this level, both physically and mentally, to have all of these skills,” Canady told the AP.

Although the change is technically temporary, the board may make it permanent after a 25-day public comment period. The board plans to consider public comments at a meeting in September.

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