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New Mississippi Law Would Allow Homicide by Church Security Teams “Justifiable”

The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi.

The “Mississippi Church Protection Act” bill is active in the 2016 Mississippi legislature, and it will allow homicide to be “justifiable” by a member of a church security team.

Bill No. 786 would amend section 45-9-101 (No. 13) of the Mississippi Code of 1972, which states that no person shall carry a stun gun or a concealed pistol or revolver in “any church or other place of worship.”

“Killing a person while acting as a participate of a church or place of worship security team is justifiable homicide; and for related purposes,” the bill states.

The bill would require at least one or more members of the church security team to have a law enforcement or military background, who would help train the team. Those on security teams at churches would be required to have a permit to carry the gun, hence section 45-9-101, and require each team member to finish a course in the safe handling and use of firearms.

“For purposes of this act, “church” or “place of worship” means and shall only be applicable to a bona fide duly constituted religious society, ecclesiastical body or any congregation thereof that was operating as such at the time of any actions described in this act,” the bill states.

The Department of Public Safety will be authorized to issue licenses to carry stun guns, concealed pistols or revolvers to the church security team members. The licenses will be valid for five years, and the licensee must carry the license with the gun. Punishment for not carrying the license will result in a noncriminal violation and a $25 fee. The fee to purchase the license will be $80.

“All fees collected by the Department of Public Safety pursuant to this section shall be deposited into a special fund hereby created in the State Treasury and shall be used for implementation and administration of this section,” the bill states. “After the close of each fiscal year, the balance in this fund shall be certified to the Legislature and then may be used by the Department of Public Safety as directed by the Legislature.”

If passed, Bill No. 786 would go into affect on July 1, 2016, in order to create the “Mississippi Church Protection Act.”

Actual Amendments to the Mississippi Code of 1972 in the case of a homicide and no liability charged to the church security member(s):

The church security member responsible for the homicide must prove the following:

  • That at the time he or she was a member of a church or place of worship security program, and was then actually engaged in the performance of his or her duties as such and met the requirements of Section 2 of this act.
  • When necessarily committed in the performance of duty as a member of a church or place of worship security program as described in Section 2 of this act.

To read the entire bill and regulations for a church security team member, licensing regulations and liability concerns, please visit billstatus.com.

HottyToddy.com emailed Representative Andy Gibson, who represents District 77 (Simpson, Smith and Rankin County), the principal author of the bill, and is awaiting further comments on it.

Emily Newton is a staff reporter for HottyToddy.com, and the editor of Experience Oxford magazine. She can be reached at emily.newton@hottytoddy.com.

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