VERONA, Miss. (WCBI) — A new law has police officers, sheriff’s deputies, judges, some business and even churches and malls more than a little confused.
And even a little worried.
The law that takes effect July 1 allows people who have undergone specific training to carry weapons just about anywhere as long as they are holstered and at least partially visible.
While the so-called concealed carry gun law is aimed at ensuring protection of Second Amendment rights, it opens up another can of worms.
Men and women of law enforcement must be more vigilant now that more weapons could be present whenever they answer a call.
“If we have law-abiding citizens, I don’t see it being such a problem. But we know what we deal with on a daily basis. Everybody doesn’t abide within the law. It gives us no way of knowing who is willing to do harm or who is actually law abiding,” said Verona Police Chief Anthony Anderson.
“We’re not going to know when we walk up on somebody, we’re not going to know exactly who this individual is unless we have prior knowledge of him from dealing with him in our line of work,” added Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott.
An option already available to businesses in places like malls, other stores, and even places like Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern in Starkville, includes having posted signs banning firearms on the premises.
But mixed legal opinions aren’t sure whether those signs override the new law.
Even judges in some districts who want to make sure guns don’t end up in courthouses are confused about whether they can prohibit them to those who meet the new law’s standards.
Law enforcement agencies are trying to prepare their officers.
“By all means we’ll abide by within what the law says. We’ll go back in and we’ll have in-service training where we will have have to train our officers on how to handle and deal with this situation when it arises,” said Anderson.
Scott emphasizes that training is also available for citizens exercising their right.
He has a couple of reminders — guns and alcohol don’t mix and if you pull a weapon, be prepared to use it.
“You bump buggies in Wal-Mart and get into a verbal argument, don’t start pulling guns you know. Make sure you understand what you are doing. So its also a safety concern with us in trying to work through this and figure out what we got to do,” said Scott.
“By all means we want to respect our legislation and our citizens of this great state. But its just going to be, its going to be hard to tackle. But we will by all means, we’ll do what’s necessary here,” said Anderson.
Sheriffs from 82 counties are in Biloxi for a week-long conference where they will deal with the new gun law.
The issue also will be addressed at a police chief’s conference later this month.