Friday, March 11, 2016

Gipson says guns in courthouses are nothing new

Representative Andy Gipson (R-Glock) submitted the following column to JJ.


Rep. Andy Gipson

To read the news these days, many people apparently hold the belief that “guns in courthouses” is a new or unusual concept. That’s a mistaken belief. Effective July 1, 2011, House Bill 506 amended Miss. Code Section 97-37-7(2) to authorize carry of guns in courthouses for holders of Mississippi’s “enhanced firearms license” who have voluntarily completed an instructional course in the safe handling and use of firearms. House Bill 506 authorized these licensed and trained Mississippi citizens to “carry weapons in courthouses except in courtrooms during a judicial proceeding” and practically anywhere else, subject to very few exceptions. In addition, House Bill 506 authorized all prosecutors and public defenders to carry firearms, and the law already provided that all judges, investigators, DHS investigators, fire marshals, and law enforcement can carry firearms.

Since the passage of the enhanced firearm license, according to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, approximately 38,000 law abiding Mississippi citizens have taken the hours of necessary instructional courses, paid the required fees and obtained the enhanced carry firearm license so that they can be legally equipped to defend themselves in virtually any location in the State, except for a few places such as courtrooms during a judicial proceeding. Courtrooms have always been and will continue to be off limits.

So why is the 2016 Legislature having to consider House Bill 571 – the bill I and many other legislators recently authored which is the subject of so much apparent controversy? The reason is that despite passage of House Bill 506 five years ago, and despite the clear language of existing law found in Mississippi Code Section 97-37-7(2), a few judges and some other officials around the state have either ignored or sought to judicially re-write the law.

For example, since 2011, an enhanced license holder going to buy a car tag, check land records or pay their taxes in a non-courtroom area of a courthouse should have been able to legally carry their weapon for self-defense. But because of the “courtroom” prohibition, some judges have taken the liberty to define a “courtroom” as the entire courthouse building, as well as all adjacent buildings and even parking lots. That is both unacceptable and illogical, violating the spirit and letter of the Mississippi statutory provision governing enhanced firearm carry. And many in the Legislature believe, as do I, that this type of judicial activism is a violation of the separation of powers. Not to mention it deprives legal Mississippi license holders their rights under existing law.

If “courtroom” is going to be defined, it should be by the representative Legislature, not by an individual judge(s). House Bill 571 is an attempt to restore the logical rule of law by giving a legislative definition of “courtroom.” Under the version as passed the House on February 29th, a courtroom would be defined as:

the actual room in which a judicial proceeding occurs, including any jury room, witness room, judge’s chamber, office housing the judge’s staff, or similar room.

Now, I don’t think this is unreasonable given the intent of the 2011 law authorizing carry in other areas of a courthouse besides a courtroom. I do think it is unreasonable for judges to re-write the laws passed by the Legislature. And I think it is entirely reasonable that the tens of thousands of Mississippi enhanced license holders should have their interests represented against judicial activists intent on ignoring or overturning the will of the people as expressed through the people’s elected Legislature.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Gibson, you really should find some legitimate issue to concentrate on. The only guns in courtrooms should be in the hands of law enforcement officers. Oh, by the way, I own 14 firearms. I have no desire or need to carry one into a courthouse.

Anonymous said...

If a judge wants to call a parking lot off limits to firearms the only fair thing to do is search every car at the entrance. Another reality worth repeating is only the law abiding citizen will follow the law while leaving the law abiding citizen an easy target to the criminal. Thank you Rep. Gipson for common sense legislation.

Anonymous said...

@8:32 That's fine if you don't want to carry. But, simply because you don't want to carry shouldn't mean that you can restrict my right to carry.

Anonymous said...

8:32 - I believe you missed the point. There are legitimate reasons, other than going into a courtroom, to be in a courthouse. Leaving your handgun in a vehicle is not the safest thing to do for public safety. Guns in vehicles are a favorite target for thieves. Just ask the MDWFP. Congrats on the 14 firearms, your creds are noted.

Anonymous said...

Andy Gibson knows the right buttons to push in order to tantalize his constituents. Red meat for the masses.

Anonymous said...

Can you carry in the Capitol building?

Anonymous said...

The judges can pack heat while on the bench. It's been that way for about two decades now. You never know what is under that black robe.

Anonymous said...


MS Constitution and the 2011 law allows for individuals to conceal carry in a courthouse. Law prohibits citizens from carrying in a courtroom during proceedings.... that is a room in a courthouse where a judge is conducting business.

This law is removing the small ledge some judges appear willing to stand on and say that a courthouse is off-limits.

This is akin to saying you can't have a gun in the bathroom of your home while someone is conducting business. They can conceal carry in every part of your house, but can't carry in the bathroom while someone is being judged by the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Valid question, 9:05. I would also like to know whether any enhanced license holder can carry inside the MS Capitol Building. If not, why is Representative Gipson's workplace so damn special? Shouldn't he be focusing on his own building before mine?

Anonymous said...

This is a legitimate issue, but Andy Gipson isn't going far enough.

I'm a female living in Hinds county. I've concealed carry with an IC endorsement for years. The last time I was called jury duty, I was directed to park in a dark, dank, completely unattended parking garage downtown. I then had to walk several blocks past scuzzy looking homeless people on my way to the courthouse. I was forced to render myself defenseless before exiting my car, because of metal detectors at the courthouse entrance combined with Judge Tomie Green's blatant refusal to honor a law she swore to uphold.

She does this because she can. The law needs to include specified sanctions for government and elected officials who willfully deny citizens their rights under this law. It's not going to stop until then.

Anonymous said...

I am curious on how many commentators and even Andy (he does not practice in Chancery Court) have ever been in a contested / heated divorce trial. I have many times as a lawyer, and I do not think guns in the courthouse (absent law enforcement) is advisable.

Anonymous said...

Im curious to see how anyone can get around the magnetometers, whether the legislature says its legal or not. If a judge says the whole courthouse is ONE BIG CHAMBER FOR PROCEEDINGS, then the only way to resolve this will be for someone to sue or get arrested and go to trial. Who is willing to test this July 1? I can guarantee some fool who doesn't know the law will try that doesn't have an Enhanced Carry license.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a legitimate way to avoid jury duty. A person should not have to take a chance with their life just to set on a jury.

Anonymous said...


You are OK with an LEO going through a heated divorce having a gun in a courtroom during the proceedings?

Other than that, your comment suggests that no one should utilize your legal services because your logic impediment appears to be insurmountable.

Anonymous said...

8:32 here. I have prosecuted gang members with their fellow gangsters as the spectators, and on a few occasions when the victim was a rival gangster, with his crew also present. I too have tried divorce and custody cases when in private practice where the emotions were high. In neither of these situations should any firearms be in the courthouse other than those wielded by law enforcement. You want to carry your gun to McDonalds, fine. But not in the courthouse.

Anonymous said...


God help your clients.

Why does the "courthouse" matter? What about the street outside the courthouse? The courthouse steps?

Guns are not allowed in courtrooms during proceedings. That solves the issue you have. Suggesting that the building that the courtroom is in is somehow different than the area outside is stupid. Whatever you suggest would happen because someone can carry their defense weapon into the courthouse (not the courtroom) could happen on the steps just outside.

The average citizen has to enter the courthouse to conduct business. That citizen should not be subjected to surrendering a right to do so.

Now, if you want to tax all attorney's fees at 50% in order to provide access controlled, secure parking and access and egress from the courthouse so that you can feel comfortable, that's fine. Because until you can provide the security for the average citizen your point is moot.

Anonymous said...

8:32 - I don't eat at McDonalds. Again, please pay attention, no one is asking to be allowed in a courtroom while armed. But there are legitimate reasons to be in a courthouse building while armed.

Anonymous said...


Agreed that the parking lot is probably going too far. You say that guns are not allowed in the courtroom. True enough, but who is enforcing that? Have you ever been to a courthouse where the local sheriff had enough personnel to staff both the building and the courtroom entrances? Who is going to pay for that, the state? Doubt it. So people are on the honor system once they're in the building.

Obviously making something illegal doesn't stop the conduct. Look at our criminal courts. People are going to do what they're going to do. But why make the sheriffs job that much more difficult by allowing guns into what should otherwise be a secure facility? Picture this, a citizen unholsters his/her weapon for whatever purpose, good or bad. Someone yells "gun!" and a deputy comes around the corner to find an armed, plain clothed individual pointing a gun. How does that go down?

How about this for a solution? Provide lock boxes at the entrance so you can check your gun in. You don't have to leave it in your car, where it might get stolen, nor do you have to leave yourself exposed as you make your way to and from the courthouse.

I realize the cat is already out of the bag and there's no going back with the enhanced carry inside the building. Everyone, including Gipson, is getting worked up about what judges are doing. Did anyone ever ask the sheriffs for input on this entire issue before expanding guns into courthouses? They are the ones tasked with security.

Kingfish said...

If you go to a courthouse in Rankin, Madison, and Hinds counties, you are going through a metal detector.

Anonymous said...

" one should utilize your legal services because your logic impediment appears to be insurmountable."

10:48; I just stopped by to say WELL PLAYED. WELL DAMNED PLAYED. Phrase of the decade.

Anonymous said...

ABSOLUTELYNO weapons in courtrooms. The United States needs to get a handle on all these mass murders that occur with weapons. You think a person can get a fair trail in a courtroom filled with guns. Think again.

Anonymous said...

8:45 AM We restrict your rights in many ways. You can't piss in the street, carry babies in cars without car seats etc. etc. We restrict you right for Safety reasons. There are a lot of Dumb A**es that need to have other people protected by LAWS.....

Anonymous said...

11:55, as you should in every courthouse.

The knuckle draggers above who complain of their inability to carry a gun to the tax collector or in the land records are clueless about what happens behind chamber doors. A tax troll and a scared old land man shouldn't dictate the safety of the entire damn building. I'd say keep guns out of all public buildings.

Anonymous said...

12:09, You don't read much, do you.

Anonymous said...

If “courtroom” is going to be defined, it should be by the representative Legislature, not by an individual judge(s). House Bill 571 is an attempt to restore the logical rule of law by giving a legislative definition of “courtroom.”

The mouth breathers on this one are the lawyers and those who are suppose to safe guard our rights?
I do not think a prosecutor has to worry about rival gang members and a thugs family using a State issued permit and instruction to slip into a court room with the intent of doing serious firearm crimes. Most of the lads I see on the local news being hunted for shooting and killing cannot legally obtain a firearm.
Thank you, Mr Gibson.

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Does anyone know if you can carry a firearm into the Capitol building? Surely they are applying the same rules to themselves.

Anonymous said...

You are not allowed to carry in the Capitol.

Anonymous said...

I willing to bet that the majority of sheriffs' departments that provide security to the courthouses throughout the state are opposed to this legislation. I am also willing to bet that Mr. Gipson did not consult with the Sheriffs' Association regarding their position on his bill or the safety issues involved.

Anonymous said...

Man, it must suck to be afraid 100% of the time. If you really think "they" are going to get you while you spend 5 minutes getting a car tag, you're life must be awful. I can't imagine having to live with never ending, non stop fear. And yes, that's what it is. You can have all the "Doc" Holiday dreams you want, but it ain't happening. In the million to one chance you have to throw lead down range in the Land Rolls office, you'll miss the bad guy and hopefully only hit a wall and not an innocent bystander.

Anonymous said...

4:12, don't you know by now that politicians have a completely different set of laws than the peons?

Anonymous said...


Please attempt to apply a little bit of reason to your soup of thoughts.

It's not fear, nor is it a need to carry a weapon while obtaining a car tag. A person carrying does not want to leave their weapon in their vehicle easily accessible when there is no reason to.

If you believe that stopping someone who has gone through training and pays their permit fees is about "safety" then your belief is unsupported by any factual or rational basis.

As an American, though you do not want to exercise your right, you should support others who do. Otherwise, all rights are pointless.

Anonymous said...

Judges and trial lawyers spend a lot of time in courthouses. If lawyers and judges believe more guns on courthouses would be unsafe perhaps we should consider their point of view.

Anonymous said...

10:12, that might be one problem. People want us to listen to those who make money off of crime. What would happen to judges and trial lawyers if there was less crime?

Anonymous said...

"For example, since 2011, an enhanced license holder going to buy a car tag, check land records or pay their taxes in a non-courtroom area of a courthouse should have been able to legally carry their weapon for self-defense."
What's frightening is that the author of that quote plays a part in passing Mississippi's laws. Most of the title lawyers I've known seem to be pretty mild-mannered. They may be raging volcanoes inside. You never know. Of course, in those courthouse offices since the meddling Feds forced the civil rights law down our throats (violating our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS to "state sovereignty") you're going to find DANGEROUS COLORED PEOPLE. Quick where's my pistol !!! 😱😱😱 Get real. Even in Dodge City you had to turn your 6 guns in to Wyatt Earp. Pretty good originalist argument huh. Oh wait _ I forgot _ that must not apply to 2nd Amendment_ just bigotry and self-righteousness .

Anonymous said...

Andy there is no excuse for your shameless demagoguery.

Anonymous said...

Andy: being from Braxton is not an excuse for acting like such an idiot. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

What is the law passed in 2011 that allows us to carry in courtrooms?

Anonymous said...

This is the guy who claimed a plant was dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Well, of course, we all know that Scotty can just beam people into a courtroom.

We all know that bullets can't possibly go through doors or walls or be fired in rapid succession!

And, we certainly know that no one is ever angry about being sued or being a victim of crime or being charged with a crime that necessitates them being in a courtroom!

We know all judges are loved, admired and respected so that no one would ever be hostile against a judge that ruled against them!

We certainly know that those with an enhanced permit will never,ever suffer from an physical or mental illness or reaction to medication or develop an addiction that could impair judgment!

We certainly don't know of any murderers ever in history who appeared to be perfectly normal to others! After all, that's why terrorists are so easy to recognize. They can never, ever mask their bizarre thought patterns!

God help us!

Anonymous said...

8:30 so now you've added fear for your gun and/or car's safety to your own constant fear. If you're so afraid of your gun being left unattended, perhaps you should leave it at home. There. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Yes you can carry concealed at the Capitol if you have an enhanced carry endorsed permit.

Anonymous said...

8:14 - your attempt at the fear argument only shows your level of ignorance and lack of vigor for the subject.

7:56 - Did you have a point? Your first comment suggest that someone would be at risk by all of these boogey people you fear with guns on their way to a courtroom. Guess what frisky? They are at the same risk now. Those people wouldn't go into a courtroom because they can't carry. They would be coming to the courthouse with full intent to do harm. Do you not think that they could just shoot someone outside the courthouse? Those people who might all of a sudden turn crazy could do it in a grocery store, daycare center, etc. Your whole line of thought has no rationale.

10:40 - Even in Dodge City you had to turn your 6 guns in to Wyatt Earp. Pretty good originalist argument huh - ummm.... stupid much? that was nearly a century after origination of the COTUS. Not to mention that was not in the United States at the time.

Anonymous said...

Federal territories were under federal jurisdiction. Remember "Hang 'Em High" where Clint Eastwood was the marshal for the Indian Territory? I used a Clint Eatwood movie as an example because you obviously would be more familiar with a movie than a history book.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how Gipson is going to feel when protesters bring ak-47s into the Capitol for the next flag debate. Every Judge in Mississippi is going to remember this idiot when he walks into court.

Festus said...

If you've ever sat in traffic court in Jackson, you've seen how crazy it is for even the Po Po to be strapped. They have a bench full of prisoners sitting there and a bunch of fat cops bending over in front of them, chatting, walking casually within six inches, armed. And none of the prisoners is restrained from grabbing a cop's holstered weapon and shootin' up the venue. They may be cuffed (with hands in front), but that's zero protection for the court or the public.

Once I leaned over and told a female cop (in this identical situation), 'Do you know how easy it would be for him to remove your pistol from its holster?' She laughed and said, "He ain't gone hurt nobaddy."

Anonymous said...

When the people cannot depend on the law to protect them they have to do the job themselves. If law enforcement would do their job people would not have to be armed.

Anonymous said...

5 murders in one weekend. How many have been solved?
Do you want to bet your life on the cops getting there in time to help?

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