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AG Hoods: Openly Carried Weapons OK In Polling Places

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 28 Jul 2014 04:03pm | comments
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Mississippians could be allowed to openly carry a weapon into a polling place to vote this November. That's according to a statement by the state's Attorney General. 

However, the presence of guns in the voting booth could cause confusion, or worse. 

In response to questions about openly carrying weapons in polling places, Attorney General Jim Hood issued a statement saying the law is silent on whether or not guns are allowed.

According to Hood, the law only regulates the carrying of concealed weapons, limiting that only to Mississippians with an 'enhanced concealed carry permit'. 

Representative Andy Gipson of Braxton, a main author of the state's open carry gun law, says that does not mean a person could walk into a polling site waving a gun. 

"So unless it is prohibited. Yes, someone could open carry. As long as it is secure and they are not brandishing a weapon," Gipson said. 

The attorney General goes on to say that cities and municipalities do not have the authority to limit openly carried weapons at polling sites. 

However, if the polling place is on private property Hood says an armed person would need to seek the permission of the property owner. 

But that reading of the law may not be shared by the people who run Mississippi's elections. 

Gary Knight, the president of the Elections Commissioner Association of Mississippi, says he has no problem with the enhanced carry permit which allows concealed weapons but he does not think openly carried fire arms are legal. 

"But I believe that if anybody went into a polling place openly carrying that that would certainly be sufficient to call the police and have that person removed," Knight said. 

Open firearms in voting booths could trigger another round of debate about where weapons should and should not be allowed. 

Senator Derrick Simmons of Greenville, a vocal opponent of open carry laws, says this is a clear example of the law pushed too far. 

"I strictly oppose any open weapons being carried into polling places because of the intimidation factor that a weapon may present," Simmons said. 

Second amendment advocates nationwide have been making increasingly visible efforts to expand the places guns are accepted...and a Mississippi voting booth could be the next step.

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