Authorities discuss permitting process for carrying weapons

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One of the most hotly contested rights guaranteed to Americansis the right to keep and bear arms.

It’s a common misconception, officials said, that one simply hasto have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but that if he or sheis displaying it openly, it is legal. But not so, said MississippiHighway Patrol Troop M Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Rusty Boyd.

“There’s not a concealed permit – it’s a carry permit,” he said.”You have to have the permit in order to carry a firearm.”

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In Lincoln County, and in the state of Mississippi, it’s afairly simple process to receive a carrying permit, although thereare definitely steps to be followed.

Boyd said the process includes going to the Department of MotorVehicles on a Monday morning and filling out an application, beingfingerprinted and going through the background check. The applicantthen pays $132, and upon passing the background check they’reissued a weapons permit card.

“That does go on your record so if someone runs your license itshows that you’ve got your permit,” Boyd said.

The most popular reason to carry a weapon, Boyd said, is forself-defense. It’s not a bad idea in the case of someone carryinglarge amounts of money for work or making night deposits.

“It’s up to the individual whether you think you need one ornot. It’s not against the law to carry it in your vehicle,” hesaid. “But reasons I can think of that you’d need it would be likea business owner who carries a large sum of money and needs it onhis person. If you make night deposits, something to that effect,would be a reason someone may want one, for personalprotection.”

But there are places a firearm is not allowed even if the ownerdoes have a permit, officials said.

“All in all they’re good things to have, it’s a good way toprotect yourself, but you have to be aware of the restrictions thatare out there,” said Assistant District Attorney Brendon Adams. “Ifyou’re not aware, you can get yourself into more trouble by havingthe carry permit.”

Adams said there are places such as schools, churches,courthouses, jails and places that serve alcohol, just forstarters, where carrying a gun is strictly prohibited for everyoneexcept law enforcement officials. He said, however, that thereisn’t a lot of trouble with those sort of offenses.

“That’s not something we’ve seen as much of,” he said. “I thinkthere’s not a lot of people that feel the need to carry guns intochurches and bars and things like that, I don’t know if I’ve runinto an instance of something like that.”

But it’s still legal to carry your loaded weapon in your car,which under Mississippi law is an extension of your home, officialssaid.

Boyd said it’s not unusual for his men to run across travelerswith firearms in their cars.

“Most of those advise us they have them if we make contact withthem,” he said. “It’s their right to have it, and the biggest partof them we’re not worried about.”

Still, don’t keep them out in the open, Boyd said. Lawenforcement officials who happen to see a gun on the dashboardcould understandably take it as a threat.

Carrying a weapon without a permit is a misdemeanor, punishableby a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $500 or six months in jail onfirst offense.