Keith Treadway, Esq.
Office of the Attorney GeneralFebruary 16, 2017
2017 WL 1095388 (Miss.A.G.)
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
*1 Opinion No. 2016-00475
*1 February 16, 2017
Re: Concealed Weapons on DeSoto County School District (“District”) Property
*1 Keith Treadway, Esq.
*1 General Counsel
*1 DeSoto County Schools
*1 5 East South Street
*1 Hernando, MS 38632
Dear Mr. Treadway:
*1 Attorney General Jim Hood is in receipt of your opinion request and has assigned it to me for research and response.
Facts and Issues Presented
*1 Your letter states:
*1 The District has posted signs outside of both of its school buildings and other buildings stating that pistols or revolvers are prohibited. The District posted said signs pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated Section 45-9-101. The District would request opinions on the following:
*1 1. Is the District required to post said notice pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated Section 45-9-101 in order to prevent holders of a concealed carry permit from carrying a concealed weapon on school or other district property?
*1 2. If the District is required to post a notice or chooses to post the notice should it post additional language making it clear that said notice does not apply to holders of an enhanced permit?
*1 As your letter notes, the District has already posted signs, and this opinion does not validate nor invalidate that past action. With regard to prospective signage and postings, we offer the following concerning concealed carry and prohibitive signs under Section 45-9-101(13). In MS AG Op., Cantrell (Oct. 1, 2013), we discussed the rights of individuals with enhanced concealed carry licenses as follows:
*1 Section 97-37-7 (2) was amended in 2011 to create a second category of concealed carry license, commonly called an “enhanced license.” This authorizes the enhanced licensee to carry a concealed pistol or revolver even in the places named in Section 45-9-101 (13). In other words, the person holding an enhanced license may carry concealed handguns in the listed locations without violating the concealed weapons law (Section 97-37-1), whereas the carrying of a concealed handgun in those locations with a standard license does violate that law.
*1 Two of the listed locations are “any elementary or secondary school facility” as well as “any school, college or professional athletic event not related to firearms.” Therefore, the holder of an enhanced license does not violate the concealed weapon statute, 97-37-1, by carrying a firearm into a public school facility or non-firearm related athletic event. Further, as we stated in our opinion to Bounds, dated January 5, 2012, it is our opinion that the enhanced permit law is an exception to Section 97-37-17, which otherwise makes it a felony to possess a firearm on educational property.
*1 Noting that “the legislature has expressly stated in Section 97-37-7 (2) that an enhanced permit holder ‘shall also be authorized to carry weapons in ... any location listed in subsection (13) of Section 45-9-101,’ including ‘any elementary or secondary school facility’ and ‘any school ... athletic event ....”D’, we opined in Cantrell that a school district may not prohibit an enhanced license holder from possessing a concealed weapon on school property. We did, however, opine that a school district could deny even an enhanced license holder from access “to non-public area[s] of the school.”
*2 Thus, as a general matter, a school district may not prohibit an enhanced concealed license holder from carrying on school property by virtue of a sign posted pursuant to Section 45-9-101(13). With regard to your question number 1, we answer it with respect to a regular concealed license holder. A school district is not required to post a sign under Section 45-9-101(13) in order to prohibit a regular license holder from possessing a concealed weapon. Section 97-37-1 makes it unlawful for a person to carry concealed any “deadly weapon” except as provided for in Section 45-9-101. Section 45-9-101(13), in turn, states that “[n]o license issued pursuant to this section shall authorize any person to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver into ... any elementary or secondary school facility.” Thus, it is a violation of state law for a regular concealed license holder to carry a weapon onto school property, and this violation is not dependent on the posting or presence of any sign.
*2 Your last question is if the District, in fact, posts a sign, must it contain language that it does not apply to enhanced license holders. The District's schools are locations listed in Section 45-9-101(13). Section 45-9-53(4)(a) states that a county may post signs “[a]t a location listed in Section 45-9-101(13) ... as long as the sign also indicates that carrying a firearm is unauthorized only for license holders without a training endorsement ...” Thus, because the District's schools are listed in Section 45-9-101(13), the signs must give notice that the carry prohibitions do not apply to holders of enhanced concealed licenses.
*2 If this office can be of further assistance, do not hesitate to contact us.
2017 WL 1095388 (Miss.A.G.)
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