By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
Watertown, Mass. — The Friends of the Library Lock and Load program, held last Sunday at Crosby Memorial Library, was standing room only as citizens gathered to receive information in areas of self defense and looked to navigate the concealed carry laws versus open carry laws. The panel included District Attorney Hal Kittrell, Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison, Picayune Police Chief Brian Dawsey, State Rep. Mark Formby, and former District Attorney Buddy McDonald, a partner in McDonald and Patch, LLC. Formby, principle author of the preemptive Firearm Protection Act, assured the crowd, “We are going to ask our law enforcement to enforce gun laws that are statutes not presidential edicts or orders or regulations. If they are a not statutes in code law then we are not going to ask our state law enforcement to enforce those laws.” The bill “an act to prohibit enforcement of federal accessories or ammunition manufactured in the state that remains within the borders of the state; to provide that any federal law which attempts to ban a semi-automatic firearm or to limit the size of magazine of a firearm or other limitation on firearms in this state shall be unenforceable in the state; to provide a penalty for violations of this act and for related purpose...”died on a legislative deadline day but Formby, who is chairman of the Rules Committee has the option of bringing the bill out of the dead file. And with 74 signatures from co-authors showing their support, intends to do just that. http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2013/pdf/history/HB/HB0625.xml “We already have it in the call and the governor has promised to sign it if it does pass, which we believe it will,” said Formby. He continued, “I believe in a government of laws rather than of men. I don’t want every time leadership changes for men and women to choose the laws that they want to enforce ... we won’t be governed by anything other than statutes.” Kittrell spoke on the Castle Doctrine, (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates a person's abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances use force, up to and including deadly force, to defend against an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine He also spoke on gun laws and gave the opinion that the Concealed Carry Permit, without enhancement stamp, is not worth paper it is printed on because for every right it gives, it takes away something by limiting where you can carry your gun. Repeatedly, he advised those who were going to get the Concealed Carry Permit to go ahead and get the enhanced stamp for it. “It basically gives you the right to carry anywhere but in a court house while a judge is sitting on the bench, in session. You are also still not able to bring it in to any place of nuisance or assignation. Businesses can place signs which can be seen up to 10 feet back, according to their preferences of having guns on premises,” said Kittrell. He spoke extensively on House Bill #2. For more information he advised going to the Mississippi Legislature’s website and searching for House Bill #2 filed in 2013. “As of July 1, 2013, we are a gun slinger state. If you have a weapon, you can carry it as long as it isn’t concealed and is in compliance with holster regulations. We will have enacted the Open Carry Law,” said Kittrell. Kittrell made sure to reiterate that any circumstances that would prohibit someone from owning a gun would still apply. For instance, if someone was a convicted felon or underage, they would not be entitled to own a firearm. In a conversation with the Picayune Item, Kittrell said that he could find nothing in the language of the bill that implies need for any sort of permit when the Open Carry Law takes effect. “Now remember, that is without an Attorney General opinion and only as it is read,” said Kittrell. “I will be following up with this next week and let you know if it changes. But my staff and I were able to find an AG opinion based on the Concealed Carry with Enhanced license. A person with that kind of permit had their right to carry on school grounds, community colleges and universities upheld.” Both Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison and Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey said that they were responsible for enforcing state law, and they believed that individuals have the right to protect themselves. Allison said, “I don’t think we need any more gun laws put on us, it only effects the good citizens and as Chief Dawsey said, the criminals are going to get their guns. We get asked all of the time, If the president signs a bill asking us to remove personal guns from citizens, what are we going to do? Well we are not going to give up our guns and we are not going to come take any of yours. I don’t expect you to give them up. I have talked to many sheriffs across the country and in this state and they all take the same stance.” Allison also said that his department has the responsibility of upholding the laws of the state. He said he is not responsible for enforcing federal laws. Attorney Buddy McDonald spoke and directed those in attendance to www.handgunlaw.us for additional information on gun laws and state reciprocity. He also addressed signs posted on local establishments. He represents some establishments that have a liquor license and intends to recommend they still post signs banning guns on premises. “I am a advocate for the right to have guns ... Any good law is going to have a few edges that need rounding out and that is the case with this one. I’ve heard it said that an armed society is a polite society ...,” said McDonald. Panel members expressed their agreement with the right to bear arms and the right to protect yourself; Kittrell cautioned those in attendance, “There is fine line between wearing a white hat and a black hat. If someone is threatening you but for some reason walks away, the threat is, at that point, removed. You no longer have the right to shoot to kill. It is only under threat of imminent danger. Should you pursue after the fact, then you become the bad guy.” While many left enlightened on many aspects of gun laws, most agreed there are many aspects needing further clarification. Friends of the Library plan to revisit this issue within the next year, with another program, to discuss changes and developments in the newly enacted laws.