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Attorney general opinion on “security Guard Firearms permit” says NOT REQUIRED for open carry guards……..
Paul B. Watkins, Jr., Esq.
Office of the Attorney General
September 18, 2014
2014 WL 5350498 (Miss.A.G.)
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
Opinion No. 2013-00480
*1 September 18, 2014
Re: Security Guards
*1 Paul B. Watkins, Jr., Esq.
*1 City of Oxford
*1 Post Office Box 1456
*1 Oxford, Mississippi 38655
Dear Mr. Watkins:
*1 Attorney General Jim Hood has received your request for an opinion and has assigned it to me for research and response.
*1 You inquire as to the authority of a municipality to impose insurance requirements on establishments that employ security guards and to require such security guards to undergo safety and security training. Specifically, you provide the following:
*1 I represent the City of Oxford. Recently, the Oxford Police Department has noticed an increase in the number of private guards at bars and nightclubs who openly carry firearms in the course and scope of their employment. These private security guards are employed to, among other things, manage crowd control, break up altercations between patrons, and eject potentially intoxicated and/or disorderly individuals from their employers’ premises – in essence, to police the premises. The Police Department is concerned that these individuals might not be properly trained to deal with these issues, particularly while carrying firearms, and that this lack of training represents a serious safety issue.
*1 We are also aware of Miss. Code Ann. Section 97-37-7, as well as your opinions to A.A. McCullen (July 22, 1992) and Greg Stewart (February 25, 1994). While the statute was amended in 2002 to designate the Department of Public Safety as the permitting entity, it appears that private security guards fall within the class of people required to obtain a permit.
*1 The City respectfully requests a written opinion in response to the following questions:
*1 (1) Are private security guards who openly carry firearms in the course and scope of their duties required to obtain a permit under Section 97-37-7?
*1 (2) May the City require any establishment that employs armed security guards to carry a minimum amount of insurance?
*1 (3) May the City require private security guards employed within the City to undergo safety and security training?
*1 (4) If so, may such training include firearms instruction?
*1 Individuals, even when acting in the capacity of a security guard, may carry a firearm, provided that it is not “concealed”, in accordance with House Bill 2 (Laws of 2013, Regular Session). A municipality may not require a private business located within the municipality to carry a minimum amount of insurance based solely on the fact that the business employs armed security guards. Likewise, a municipality may not require armed security guards, working for a private business within the municipality, to undergo safety training and firearms instruction.
Applicable Law and Discussion
*1 In our opinion to Sheriff Brad Lance, we opined that an individual may carry a firearm, provided that it is not concealed, in accordance with House Bill 2 (Laws of 2013, Regular Session). MS AG Op., Lance (June 13, 2013). Your factual scenario involves the open carry of a firearm by a security guard. While Mississippi Code Annotated Section 97-37-7 specifically provides that a security guard, acting in that capacity, must obtain a permit to carry a deadly weapon, Section 97-37-7 was enacted prior to the passage of House Bill 2 (Laws of 2013, Regular Session). Furthermore, Section 97-377 exempts security guards, who are properly permitted, from violating the provisions of Section 97-37-1 when carrying a concealed firearm. You inquire as to the authority of an individual to openly carry a firearm in the course and scope of his/her duties as a security guard. It is the opinion of this office that the mandate imposed by Section 9737-7, which requires that a security guard obtain a permit only applies to instances in which said security guard is carrying a ““concealed” firearm within the definition of Section 97-37-1.
*2 Your remaining inquiries involve the authority of a municipality to impose mandates on establishments that employ armed security guards and individuals. We have previously opined that a municipality may place regulatory requirements on certain types of businesses and activities. See MS AG Ops., Powell (April 5, 2013) and Jordan (August 5, 1993). Although a municipality may place regulatory requirements on certain businesses, Sections 45-9-51 and 45-9-53 prohibit a municipality from requiring insurance based solely on the fact that the business employs armed persons. However, we would note that, in the event that the private business is entering into a contract with the municipality, for example, leasing of municipal property, there is nothing that would prohibit the municipality from requiring insurance coverage as a term of the contract. See MS AG Op., Polk (November 15, 1995).
*2 In regard to the authority of a municipality to require armed security guards located within the municipality to undergo safety training and firearms instruction, Section 45-951 specifically prohibits the adoption of an ordinance by a municipality that “restricts…the possession…of firearms”. We believe that enactment of an ordinance requiring additional standards (safety training and firearm instruction) for armed employees, including armed security guards, other than those imposed in House Bill 2 (Laws of 2013, Regular Session), could be construed as an attempt to restrict the possession of firearms by individuals in violation of Section 45-9-51. On the other hand, a gun-neutral ordinance,1 requiring insurance and safety training for businesses that employ security guards, without reference to whether such security guards are armed, would appear to comply with Section 45-9-51.
*2 If we may be of further assistance, please advise.
*2 Jim Hood
*2 Attorney General
*2 By: Leigh Triche Janous
*2 Special Assistant Attorney General
A gun-neutral ordinance would, of course, have to be applied in a constitutional manner.
2014 WL 5350498 (Miss.A.G.)
End of Document
Mississippi Office of the Attorney General
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