Mississippi Code Annotated § 45-9-51(1) states that: “[s]ubject to the provisions of Section 45-9-53, no county or municipality may adopt any ordinance that restricts the possession, carrying, transportation, sale, transfer or ownership of firearms or ammunition or their components.” In addition, no public housing authority can restrict the lawful possession of firearms, ammunition or components.1
Mississippi Code Annotated § 45-9-53(1) provides that the restrictions under section 45-9-51 do not affect local authority under other laws to require citizens or public employees to be armed for personal or national defense, law enforcement, or another lawful purpose, or to regulate the:
- Use of property or location of businesses pursuant to fire code, zoning ordinances, or land-use regulations, so long as such codes, ordinances and regulations are not used to circumvent the intent of Section 45-9-51;
- Use of firearms in cases of insurrection, riots and natural disasters in which the city finds such regulation necessary to protect the health and safety of the public, except the county or municipality may not regulate the lawful possession of firearms or ammunition;
- Carrying of a concealed firearm at: 1) a public park or at a public meeting of a county, municipality or other governmental body; 2) a political rally, parade or official political meeting; or 3) a non-firearm-related school, college or professional athletic event;2 or
- Receipt of firearms by pawnshops.
Municipalities and counties may regulate the discharge of firearms. A municipality or county may not apply a discharge-related regulation in an extraterritorial jurisdiction of the municipality or county, or in an area annexed by the municipality or county after September 1, 1981, if the firearm is discharged in a manner not reasonably expected to cause a projectile to cross the boundary of a tract of land, and is a:
- Shotgun, air rifle, air pistol or BB gun discharged on a tract of land of ten acres or more and more than 150 feet from a residence or occupied building located on another property; or
- Center fire, rim fire, or muzzle-loading rifle or pistol discharged on a tract of land of 50 acres or more and more than 300 feet from a residence or occupied building located on another property.3
Mississippi allows for significant penalties to be levied against a public official who violates the state’s preemption law, including a personal fine of up to $1,000. The state also prohibits local funds from being used to defend the official and allows a prevailing plaintiff to recover attorney’s fees.4
Finally, counties or municipalities are prohibited from conducting a gun buy-back program unless the county or municipality has adopted an ordinance authorizing the program. The ordinance must require all guns acquired from the program to be sold to federally licensed firearms dealers.5
There is no case law interpreting either Section 45-9-51 or Section 45-9-53.
Mississippi Code Annotated § 33-7-303 details the power of the Governor to declare martial law, but explicitly states that the Governor (or any state official or employee) cannot confiscate or seize firearms, ammunition or components from a person who is in lawful possession of them, or impose additional restrictions as to the lawful possession, transfer, sale, carrying, storage, display or use of firearms, ammunition, or components.6
The Mississippi Attorney General has addressed whether a municipal mayor or city council has the authority to ban gun shows in a municipality and at the Mississippi County Fairgrounds. The Attorney General opined that while the mayor in a mayor-council municipality (in this case, Jackson, Mississippi) has the authority to enforce the municipal charter and ordinances, he or she does not have the authority to regulate gun shows by executive order, particularly in light of the provisions of sections 45-9-51 and 45-9-53.7
For similar reasons, the Attorney General also opined that the Jackson City Council has no authority to ban gun shows on the Mississippi State Fairgrounds (located in Jackson).8 According to the Attorney General, the city lacks this power because exclusive authority to regulate the State Fairgrounds rests with the Mississippi Fair Commission, and because sections 45-9-51 and 45-9-53 specifically prohibit municipalities from regulating the possession, transportation, sale, transfer or ownership of firearms and ammunition.9