On Friday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 786 into law, officially making his state the 10th in the nation to adopt permitless firearm carry. In addition, the bill will also give residents the right to carry firearms into houses of worship. With a holstered Glock on his desk during the signing, Bryant made his support for the bill and the Second Amendment crystal clear.
“Today I signed House Bill 786 to give churches the right to protect themselves from those who would harm them while they worship. I’m a strong supporter of 2nd Amendment rights and will continue to advocate for your right to keep and bear arms,” Governor Bryant stated on his Facebook page.
You can watch the signing below:
Churches deserve protection from those who would harm worshippers. That's why I signed HB 786. pic.twitter.com/WOxMAprXAc
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) April 15, 2016
HB 786, otherwise known as the Mississippi Church Protection Act, was authored by State Representative and practicing minister Andy Gipson. The original draft of the bill called for greater leeway for residents in protecting their places of worship—which have been known to be targeted in attacks—and even extending the state’s Castle Doctrine to churches. The bill also included a clarification that handgun carry did not require a permit. Mississippi already had laws that allowed for permitless, or as some call it, constitutional carry, but the new law specifically clarified a point about carrying concealed weapons in holsters.
As expected, anti-gun advocates universally opposed the law. One of the louder voices in the opposition came from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“Our Governor failed us today,” read a press release from the organization’s Mississippi chapter. “Mississippi law enforcement, families and faith leaders all spoke out against this reckless bill that will allow dangerous people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in pubic without a permit. Yet the Governor still signed this legislation into law. Only eight other states have a law this extreme. We require a license to drive a car in Mississippi in order to keep our communities safe. Dismantling the system that requires a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public flies in the face of public safety and common sense.”
That statement is not entirely accurate, as nine states actually have what are widely held to be constitutional carry laws. Idaho was the last to pass permitless carry when Governor C.L. Otter signed SB 1389 into law just last month. In addition to Idaho and now Mississippi, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Vermont, Maine, West Virginia, Wyoming and Alaska also have permitless carry laws.