Mississippi public schools vote to update gun policies, paving way for staff to carry firearms on campus

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Mississippi education officials have voted to update a more than 30-year-old policy regarding weapons on school campuses that could clear the way for staff and employees to carry guns on campus. 

Following killings at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, a July Fourth parade near Chicago and an Indiana mall, the Mississippi Board of Education voted last week to update a 1990 internal policy that prohibited anyone other than law enforcement from carrying guns on public school campuses.

The update removed language from the old policy, which the department said conflicted with Mississippi’s 2011 enhanced conceal carry law. It also allowed schools to create their own policies regarding allowing guns on campus. 

“A school district may, in its discretion, prohibit or allow its employees who hold enhanced conceal carry licenses to possess weapons at the school,” Jean Cook, director of communication for the Mississippi Department of Education said in a statement

GUN VIOLENCE, NOT ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, IS WHAT KEEPS TEACHERS UP AT NIGHT SAYS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION HEAD

The 2011 law allows individuals with enhanced carry licenses to carry guns on public school campuses. Enhanced licenses require training and allow gun owners to carry in several places where those with basic permits cannot. 

At a recent board meeting, Erin Meyer, the education department’s general counsel, said state law provides “local school districts with the authority and discretion to determine” its weapons policies. 

School districts are still required to have a policy regulating firearms on campus, but they have the authority to determine what these policies entail. Possessing a gun on school property without an enhanced concealed carry license is a felony under Mississippi law.

Cook dismissed what she regarded as misreporting, following last week’s vote. 

“Today’s State Board policy update still requires local school districts to establish policies regarding weapons on campus,” Cook said in a statement. “In reviewing their current policies, local school districts should consult with their board attorney to ensure compliance with federal and state law.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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