The Mississippi Board of Education is giving the green light to public schools to craft their own policies regarding properly licensed concealed carry.
Mississippi has an “enhanced carry permit” that gives permission to carry in areas normally off-limits, including schools, but since 1990 the education board has had an internal policy prohibiting anyone outside of law enforcement from carrying at a public school. However, late last week the board determined that policy is in conflict with 2011’s state law on enhanced carry permits, opening the door for different schools to have different policies.
“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, told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
The board also noted that the former policy from 1990 “predates any notable school shootings,” but, since then, solving school shootings has become a hot-button issue. The horrible attack on at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, by an armed gunman in May garnered national attention and fierce debate over how to prevent future massacres. Mississippi’s decision makes it the latest state to look at arming teachers or school staff as a possible solution and could provide momentum for other states to adopt the policy.
In addition, Mississippi public schools have the ability to train employees to use guns using state funding. Senior vice president with Gun Owners of America Erich Pratt praised the idea of allowing teachers and other staff to conceal carry in school to protect students, noting the recent spate of mass shooter incidents.
“Not only will they serve as a concrete deterrent against those who consider acts of evil, but should someone still try to attack a school, these policies will help to neutralize the threat and mitigate any loss of life,” Pratt said.
Cook said the board’s move is not ideologically motivated and was undertaken as part of an ongoing review of state policies.
“[The policy update is] part of an ongoing review of State Board policies to make sure all are up to date and in compliance with current law,” Cook told the Associated Press. “About 30 policies have been updated over the past six months.”
Mississippi will now be one of just seven states that allow permit holders to carry a firearm on school premises, according to the gun-control organization Everytown for Gun Safety, And not everyone is keen on the proposition. Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers expressed skepticism that teachers could get the proper training to defend students.
“I don’t know that we can find the time in teachers’ schedules to be training them to that level, both physically and mentally, to have all those skills,” Canady told the AP.
While the change is technically temporary, the board can make it permanent after a 25-day public comment period. The board plans to review the public feedback in a September meeting.