Gun bill not likely to make state safer place

Published 8:40 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

We sympathize with state Rep. Charles Young, who flashed a gun on the floor of the state House to make a point.

He was pointing out the hypocrisy of his fellow House members who voted to void rules that limit where people carry guns on public property, including university football stadiums and such. They took that vote in a public place, the state Capitol, where lawmakers by rule have banned firearms, except for those carried by law enforcement officers or those granted special permission by a majority of lawmakers.

If lawmakers feel safer with fewer guns around, why force universities and other public agencies to allow them?

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The theory pushed by the National Rifle Association, which not so coincidentally backed HB 1083, is that more guns equals more safety. Research suggests that is a false sense of security.

We wonder what makes some people so afraid that they believe they must carry a firearm everywhere they go. They say we need more good guys with guns. That hasn’t proven to be the answer.

Last year, Stanford Law Professor John Donohue, building on years of research, concluded that violent crime increased in states that enacted right to carry laws.

Young was a good guy with a gun, brandishing his weapon not to intimidate or harm but to educate. The trouble is, it’s not that easy to distinguish a good guy with a gun from an armed bad guy.

University presidents and athletics directors are justifiably troubled by the House’s action. The state’s universities prohibit carrying guns in stadiums, dorms and classrooms. We believe that’s a good policy. University officials worry the change in the law could put in those limits in jeopardy.

“A university is no place for guns — period, and that goes doubly for residence halls, classroom buildings and athletic facilities,” Delta State President William N. LaForge told the Clarion-Ledger. “To enable the legal carrying of guns on a university campus in today’s society is misdirected and unwise.”

If the bill becomes law, the Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Stankey told Ole Miss and Mississippi State, other member schools would be free to refuse to play in the state.

“The great thing about being involved in the Southeastern Conference is all our facilities are electrically charged, it’s emotional. It’s an incredible environment,” Cohen said. “It’s amped up. Our concern is if you introduce certain elements into that emotion, in some ways it could stop us from making this as safe an environment as it needs to be.”

The Mississippi Coast Coliseum officials saw the danger. Last year, the Coliseum staff began screening people for firearms as they enter the building. If the bill becomes law, it would open them, and other venues with similar rules, to lawsuits. Just what we need. More lawsuits.

HB 1083 should die.

— The Sun Herald