During the 2014 legislative session which recently ended, Mississippi lawmakers passed a bill which provides clarification for Mississippi's gun law. It clarifies that state law preempts local law when it comes to bearing arms. Legislators from Meridian say the measure was passed as a way to resolve confusion.
"If you're private, you run your business the way that you like to," says District 82 Representative Charles Young, Junior. "If anybody comes in, and you don't want them in with a weapon, you put them out! If it's public space then the rule changes; if you have an enhanced or a concealed permit then you're allowed in that public space."
Despite this clarification, one thing that has not changed is the law involving courtrooms. According to the law, the judge still has domain or rule there. This means that even if a person has an enhanced license to carry a firearm, if the judge doesn't allow that person to take that weapon into the courtroom, legally he or she cannot.
Meanwhile, with lawmakers approving a 21% increase in next year's budget for public safety, House Speaker Pro Tem, Greg Snowden of Meridian says one of the highlights this year was the passage of House Bill 585. That measure gives courts more alternatives such as house arrest or drug courts instead of incarceration for offenders.
"Chief Justice Waller of the Mississippi Supreme Court says it's the most important reform to our criminal justice system within the last 100 years," says Snowden. "We think that it's going to save money for the state, but more importantly it's going to make a more just and equitable system."
According to Representative Snowden, projections are that House Bill 585 will save the state of Mississippi as much as $266 million over the next ten years.
In all, $6.9 million of the money that Mississippi lawmakers approved for public safety will be used for a new trooper school. Currently, the state is 150 troopers short of the 600 troopers who are needed.