Property owners still set own rules under open carry law

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Mississippi businesses have one more week to decide what they will do about their firearms policies before the state’s new open carry law takes effect.
The new law will allow residents to carry firearms openly and in holsters in public but the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, in a recently published opinion, says the law will not trump current property owners’ rights and other state laws that prohibit firearms.
The opinion says weapons that are “carried in a wholly or partially visible sheath, holster, scabbard or case, even though no part of the firearm is visible – are not ‘concealed’ weapons” and can be carried in public.
The opinion goes on to make clear that this allowance for the open carrying of firearms does not allow Mississippians to carry firearms in places where they are already not welcome such as educational property or a private business that has posted a firearms ban.
North Mississippi Medical Center will exercise this right by placing notices at entrances that say weapons of any type are not permitted in or on North Mississippi Medical Center property with the exception of on-duty law enforcement, according to Ken Wheeler, director of security services for the hospital.
Wheeler said the ban will include those with a concealed carry permit and be reflected on the placards. Property owners are allowed to ban concealed weapons even if the carrier has an enhanced concealed-carry permit.
Barbara Fleishhacker, owner of The Main Attraction in downtown Tupelo, said she hopes the new law won’t impact her boutique much.
“I seriously doubt that I’ll hang a sign that says no guns allowed as hopefully not too many of my customers will come in packing heat,” she said. “But if they do, that will be their right.”
Renasant Bank’s locations will take a wait-and-see approach before making any policy decisions, according to John Oxford, director of external affairs at Renasant Bank.
“The major feeling most have is that putting up signs would maybe confuse customers even more since a lot of people aren’t clear on how the new statute will work,” Oxford said. “We’ll obviously be very cautious in monitoring the situation.”
Many restaurant and bar owners won’t have to worry about the issue since House Bill 2 contains language that bans carrying firearms in establishments licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages.
Toyota already has a policy banning firearms on company premises, on company parking lots, carrying them in company vehicles or while conducting company business, and External Affairs Specialist Emily Holland said Toyota will maintain that policy.
The opinion also points out that, while guns can be openly carried, they are not allowed on educational property because that would violate Mississippi’s law banning weapons from schools.
Similarly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a release stating the open carry of guns on Corps property is prohibited by federal regulation unless it’s being carried by a law enforcement officer, used for hunting or fishing, used at an authorized shooting range or when written permission has been received from the district commander.
jb.clark@journalinc.com