Mississippi takes Active Approach to Guard Against Mass Murder in Schools

Mississippi Gun iStock-884194552
Mississippi takes Active Approach to Guard Against Mass Murder in Schools IMG iStock-884194552

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-– On October 1, 1997, school principal Joel Myrick (a U.S. Army Reserve Major) stopped a shooting at the Pearl Mississippi High School by holding the killer at gunpoint until police arrived. A student had assisted by blocking the killer’s car with their car. The killer attempted to drive around the other vehicle but became stuck. At that point, Joel Myrick pointed his .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol at the killer, and the killer surrendered.

At the time, it was illegal for Joel Myrick to bring his personal weapon onto the school property. He had to retrieve it from his car. No one attempted to prosecute Myrick for breaking the federal gun-free school zone act.

Thirteen years later, in 2011, Mississippi passed a bill creating a shall-issue enhanced carry permit, which allows the possessors to carry in several otherwise prohibited locations, such as schools and colleges, places that serve alcohol, polling places, meetings of the legislature, airline passenger terminals (excepting federally secured areas) and churches. This effectively allowed carrying in schools by people with the enhanced permit.

In 2016, Mississippi passed a state version of Constitutional Carry (permitless carry). The permitless carry law did not apply to schools. From Mississippitoday.com:

In 1990, the board created a policy which prohibited weapons in schools, except in the possession of law enforcement officials. The policy also allowed districts to create additional rules about weapons in their district. But in 2012, when state lawmakers passed an enhanced carry law that allowed enhanced permit holders to carry weapons on school campuses, the board never updated its policy.

The board voted in July to adopt a temporary rule change to address this issue, and after receiving and reviewing public comment, the board made its temporary change permanent on Thursday. The new policy reads “each local school district shall have a policy concerning weapons on school premises.”

In the July meeting, the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) general counsel referenced an attorney general opinion from 2013, which clarifies that possessing a gun on school property is a felony according to Mississippi law unless one possesses an enhanced concealed carry permit.

No mass murder at a Mississippi school has taken place since 1997.  To further enhance Mississippi school safety, Republican Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi has recommended the creation of a school guardian program that would pay volunteers in schools to be armed and responsible for the defense of the students and staff. Volunteers would undergo training and be paid about $500 a month. From mcusercontent.com:

Enhance School Safety

There are few issues of higher importance than ensuring the safety of Mississippi children. When parents send their kids to school, they should be able to rest comfortably knowing that their kids will be safe and protected. Every child should be able to focus solely on learning, and Mississippi intends to provide the security necessary for that.

To better protect our kids, I propose creating the Mississippi School Safety Guardian Program. Guardians will be trained to provide armed intervention in the event of an active shooter threat. They will be employees of the school district and nominated by the district to be trained and certified by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Guardians will receive a monthly stipend of $500 dollars, be issued a firearm, a holster, and ammunition by DPS. They will graduate from a training program hosted by DPS and must recertify with the Department annually. I propose allocating $5 million to cover the cost of an initial rollout for the program across 450 schools, with the goal of ultimately expanding the program to every public school across the state.

Additionally, Mississippi should allocate a dedicated source of funding to identify and provide an annual threat assessment for every school across the state. I propose $1 million toward this effort.

School Resource officers cost about $100,000 a year. $500 a month per guardian would cost about $6,000 a year. About 16-17 school guardians can be trained and available for each School Resource Officer.

The enhanced permit in Mississippi costs about $115 dollars and can be renewed every five years for $72. There are reduced fees for retired and active duty military or spouse and law enforcement officers. Applications must be made in person, but people who have carry permits from other states may apply.

Republicans hold more than two thirds of the Senate and about 63% of the house seats in the Mississippi state legislature. It appears a bill supported by Governor Reeves has a reasonable chance of passage.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten