Concealed weapon changes discussed

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lincoln County supervisors and Sheriff Steve Rushing are looking at how best to proceed under a new state law that redefines what constitutes a concealed weapon in Mississippi.

At the board’s meeting Monday morning, the board and Rushing discussed the recent release of the Attorney General’s opinion on House Bill 2 of the 2013 Regular Session of the Legislature, which names the sheriff as responsible for deciding if guns will be allowed inside government buildings.

Beginning July 1, the bill also states that as long as “common observation” would show a weapon on a person, people in Mississippi will no longer be required to have a concealed weapons license.

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For many, a concern has arisen about the legality of weapons in a number of situations, including in courthouses.

The opinion acknowledges the sheriff as the custodian of the court and, therefore, gives each sheriff the power to make this decision in his or her county.

Rushing said he is working with Circuit Court Judge Michael Taylor to make an educated and lawful decision moving forward. He said their decision would be based on examples from other court systems.

“We want to be fair, and at the same time provide the best security,” he said.

One of the biggest issues for Lincoln County is that most Mondays, the courts are active all day. Because there are five courts and only two courtrooms, sometimes that results in courts being held in rooms throughout the building, such as the county board room.

Rushing said currently the judges in Lincoln County have decided guns are not allowed in courtrooms. The modified law will not affect this injunction.

Rushing said they hope to have a policy in place by July 1 when the new law takes effect.

In other action Monday, the board also heard a pitch from Terry Westmoreland, with Boston Mutual, advertising whole life insurance for county employees and their dependents. The life insurance company would not cost the county anything.

Employees who would like to enroll would have a certain amount withheld from their check. The cost to the employees could range from $2 to $12 per week.

Employees would not have to answer health questions to enroll. Spouses can be enrolled for up to $15 per week, depending on the size of the policy.

The employees have the ability to continue to carry the policy once they stop working for the county, whether because they retire or change jobs.

Policies for children and grandchildren would also be available.

The board decided to look over the information and revisit the proposal at the next board meeting.

The board also discussed several roadwork projects throughout the county and approved sending various employees to developmental workshops.