Guns and the Law, Part 2

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With a recent spike in crime and talk of new gun control legislation, sales of firearms have spiked, as have requests for permits. So if you have a concealed-carry permit, exactly what does that mean?

In order to obtain a firearm permit in the state of Mississippi there is certain criteria required, along with an application.

"That you can either go on the Mississippi Department of Public Safety website and download a firearms permit or application or you can pick one up at the local driver's license office," said Lt. Eric Johnson of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. "Fill that application out in detail to include a notarization and a photograph much like a passport photograph. Once you have your paperwork in order, come out there on a Monday or Tuesday if you live within the Meridian District area. Turn in your application. You'll be processed through the fingerprint system and then you'll go back through the driver's license where you'll pay the applicable fees to the permit. And then you'll receive that in the mail through the department."

Where are you allowed to carry your concealed firearm? Attorney Joel Hamilton, of the Hamilton Law Firm, says currently you may carry the weapon into a business in which the consumption of alcohol is not the primary purpose.

"So that means if you want to go in Wal-Mart, they sell beer but people don't consume the beer there. That you could carry in Wal-Mart but you couldn't carry it in a bar," Hamilton said. "You couldn't go in Rhythm and Brews with your handgun or The Brickhouse or upstairs at Weidmann's, There is a enhanced carry sticker you get for your concealed-carry permit. You take a class that expands where you can carry but you can't carry somewhere where the primary business is the consumption of alcohol. Government buildings are off limits; schools are off limits. There's a list a places that are enumerated in the code and it's 97-37-1. It's your responsibility as a concealed- carry permit holder to know those places. But they include governments; they include churches. "

Hamilton also says the law doesn't permit carrying in places where illegal activity is happening, such as crack houses.

"Also any business that wants to keep you from carrying your weapon can post a sign that you can read from ten feet away that says 'no concealed weapons'," said Hamilton. "And by law that means you can't carry your weapon inside."

Both Mississippi and Alabama have much higher rates of gun ownership than the national average.

About 55 percent of Mississippi residents own a gun, which ranks it sixth highest among the states .

Almost 52 percent of Alabama residents own firearms, ranking ninth.

The national rate of gun ownership is about 30 percent.