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Senate Passes Gun Law, More Training for School Staff

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Senate Passes Gun Law, More Training for School Staff
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Associated Press

Mississippi lawmakers in the Senate made changes to a gun law that some didn't know was already on the books.

When a Senate committee took up HB 1083, they wanted to give Mississippi school districts the option of having armed staff on campus. But it turns out, there's already a state law that allows those with an enhanced conceal carry firearm permit to have their weapon on university, college and school campuses. The full Senate passed the bill 27 to 18, with an amendment that adds 36 hours of firearms training, psychological evaluations and shooting tests. Republican Senator Briggs Hopson of Vicksburg chairs the Judiciary A Committee.

"What this does is it sets up a rigorous training program if someone is going to be an enhanced carry permit holder in the school, requires them to go through this program, be certified to handle particular things that could happen in the school and make sure they're properly trained," said Hopson.

Democratic Senator Tammy Witherspoon of Magnolia voted against the bill. She doesn't think guns at schools is the answer to combating mass shootings.

"Some of the answers can be more background check, mental health background check, raising the age limit, more law enforcement, visibility for law enforcement but definitely not more guns," said Witherspoon,"

Democratic Senator Willie Simmons says he voted against the original conceal carry bill passed in 2011. But he voted for this bill because it gives universities and schools the option to allow firearms on campuses.

"I would rather that we not have guns in the system. But if we're going to do it then I certainly would want our universities and our public schools to be in a position to decide if they want to," said Simmons.

The bill would not allow firearms at sporting events when law enforcement is present.