In 2016, Mississippi enacted a law allowing individuals to carry loaded, hidden handguns on their person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster without first obtaining a permit,1 as long as they are not:
Engaged in criminal activity (other than a misdemeanor traffic offense);
- Prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law; or
- Carrying the handgun into a prohibited location, defined to include:
- Any place of nuisance;2
- Any police, sheriff or highway patrol station;
- Any detention facility, prison or jail;
- Any courthouse or courtroom, except that a judge may carry a concealed weapon and decide who may carry a concealed weapon in a courtroom;
- Any polling place;
- Any government meeting place, including any meeting of the legislature or a legislative committee;
- Any school, college or professional athletic event not related to firearms;
- Any portion of an establishment, licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, that is primarily devoted to dispensing alcoholic beverages; and any portion of an establishment in which beer or light wine is consumed on the premises, that is primarily devoted to such purpose;
- Any elementary or secondary school, and any junior college, community college, college or university facility (unless for the purpose of participating in any authorized firearms-related activity);
- Inside the passenger terminal of any airport (except that no one shall be prohibited from carrying a legal firearm into the terminal if the firearm is encased for lawful shipment as checked baggage);
- Any church or other place of worship, except that churches or places of worship may choose to establish a security program by which designated members are authorized to carry firearms for the protection of the congregation;3
- Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law;
- Any place where a person or entity exercises control over the physical location of such place (e.g., private property), if that person or entity has chosen to exclude firearms and posted written notice clearly readable at a distance of not less than ten (10) feet that the “carrying of a pistol or revolver is prohibited”;
- A parade or demonstration for which a permit is required to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver.4
Pursuant to an earlier law, Mississippi also allows people to carry loaded handguns inside a purse, handbag, satchel, other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case without a permit, subject to the above restrictions.5
Although Mississippi allows “permitless” concealed carry in the above circumstances, the state still issues concealed carry permits. As described below and on our page on Other Location Restrictions in Mississippi, if a permit-holder voluntarily completes an approved safety training course, Mississippi exempts such permit-holders from the prohibition on carrying concealed firearms into many of the locations listed above, including schools, polling places, government meetings, bars, and churches.
Mississippi is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a concealed handgun license if the applicant meets certain qualifications. A license to carry concealed handguns must be issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), if the applicant:
- Is a resident of the state (this requirement may be waived if the applicant possesses a valid permit from another state, is on active military duty and stationed in the state, or is a retired law enforcement officer residing in the state);
- Is 21 years of age or older;
- Does not suffer from a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a pistol or revolver;
- Has not been convicted of a felony in a court of any state or of the United States without it having been pardoned or expunged;
- Does not chronically or habitually use alcoholic beverages or abuse controlled substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired;6
- Desires a legal means to carry a concealed handgun to defend himself or herself;
- Has not been adjudicated mentally incompetent, or has waited five years from the date of his or her restoration of mental capacity by court order;
- Has not been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or mental health treatment facility, unless he or she possesses a certificate from a psychiatrist licensed in Mississippi stating that he or she has not suffered from disability for a period of five years;
- Has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony unless three years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled;
- Is not a fugitive from justice; and
- Is not disqualified from possessing or owning a weapon under federal law.7
However, DPS may deny a license if the applicant has been found guilty of one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor unless three years have elapsed since any conditions set by the court have been fulfilled.8
Except as permitted under state law, Mississippi penalizes the concealed carrying of any “pistol, revolver, or any rifle with a barrel of less than sixteen (16) inches in length, or any shotgun with a barrel of less than eighteen (18) inches in length, machine gun or any fully automatic firearm or deadly weapon, or any muffler or silencer for any firearm, whether or not it is accompanied by a firearm….”9 Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is not a violation of state law for any person over the age of 18 to carry a concealed firearm:
- Within the confines of his or her own home, place of business, on real property associated with the home or business or within any motor vehicle; or
- If the possessor of the weapon is then engaged in a legitimate weapon-related sports activity or is going to or returning from such activity. For purposes of this subsection, “legitimate weapon-related sports activity” means hunting, fishing, target shooting or any other legal sports activity which normally involves the use of a firearm or other weapon.10
Mississippi’s concealed carry permit does not ordinarily allow permit-holders to bring a concealed firearm into any of the locations listed as being prohibited for “permitless” concealed carry, including places of nuisance, police stations and jails, courthouses, schools, polling places, government meetings, bars, churches, and private property.11 However, if a concealed carry permit-holder voluntarily completes a certified or approved firearms safety training course, the permit-holder may carry his or her concealed firearm into all of these otherwise prohibited locations except for places of nuisance, police stations and jails, and courthouses.12 In other words, Mississippi permit-holders who voluntarily complete a safety training course may carry concealed firearms into schools, polling places, government meetings, bars, churches, and private property. Note that under Mississippi law, permit-holders may still be barred from bringing concealed firearms to these locations if they are privately owned and the owner has chosen to exclude all firearms from his or her property.13
Firearm Safety Training
Mississippi does not require firearm safety training as a prerequisite to possessing, purchasing or carrying a firearm.
However, in Mississippi a concealed weapons licensee may carry his or her concealed weapon in locations in which concealed weapons are generally prohibited if he or she completes a firearms safety training course taught by a certified, nationally-recognized organization that normally offers such courses, or by any other organization approved by the state police.14
Duration & Renewal
Mississippi licenses to carry concealed handguns are valid for five years.15
Ninety days prior to the expiration date of a license, DPS shall mail to a licensee a written notice of the upcoming expiration and a renewal form.16 The licensee must renew his or her license on or before the expiration date by filing a renewal form, a notarized affidavit stating that the licensee remains qualified to carry a concealed weapon under state law,17 a full set of fingerprints, a renewal fee, plus costs of processing the fingerprints.18 If a licensee fails to file a renewal application on or before the license’s expiration date, he or she must renew the license by paying a late fee.19
A license will be deemed “permanently expired” if it is not renewed six months after its expiration date.20 A person whose license has permanently expired may reapply for licensure, but is required by state law to complete a new application and submit to a new background investigation.21
Disclosure or Use of Information
DPS maintains an automated listing of license holders that is available on-line, upon request, at all times, to all law enforcement agencies through the Mississippi Crime Information Center.22 Records relating to applications for licenses or license holders, however, are exempt from the provisions of the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.23 Specifically, the name, home address, any telephone number or other private information of any person who possesses a weapon permit issued shall be exempt from the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.24
If a person holds a valid license to carry a concealed handgun issued in another state, that license will be recognized as valid in Mississippi, provided the issuing state authorizes Mississippi license holders to carry concealed handguns in that state and has communicated that fact to DPS.25
Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful.26 Holders of concealed handgun licenses in Mississippi are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the federal Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.
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- 2016 Miss. H.B. 786, signed by the Governor April 15, 2016, amending Miss Code Ann. § 97-37-7(24).
- Place of nuisance” is defined under Miss. Code Ann. § 95-3-1 as any place where lewdness or prostitution is conducted or permitted or where controlled substances are unlawfully used, possessed, sold or delivered more than once.
- S ee Miss. Code. Ann. § 97-37-7(2).
- 2016 Miss. H.B. 786, signed by the Governor April 15, 2016, amending Miss Code Ann. § 97-37-7(24); Miss Code Ann. § 97-37-7(13).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(24).
- See Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(1)(e), (f) for crimes or events that qualify.
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(2).
- Miss. Code. Ann. § 45-9-101(3). Additional application and background check requirements, as well as permit suspension or disqualification information, are outlined in state law. Miss. Code. Ann. § 45-9-101.
- Miss. Code. Ann. § 97-37-1; see also Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101.
- Miss. Code. Ann. § 97-37-1(2), (3).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(13).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-7(2).
- Op. Miss. Att’y Gen. No. 2013-00023 (Oct. 1, 2013), 2013 Miss. AG LEXIS 248, *8-9 (“An enhanced permit cannot constitutionally take away the rights of property owners to exclude persons from their property if that is their wish. …Therefore, private property owners, including but not limited to owners or custodians of those types of property listed in section 45-9-101(13) (e.g., bars, churches, restaurants serving alcohol, private schools, professional athletic event property) may exclude from their premises persons carrying weapons.”).
- Miss. Code Ann. §97-37-7(2).
- Miss. Code. Ann. § 45-9-101(1)(a).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(12)(a).
- See Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(2) and (3).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(12)(a).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(12)(c).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(12)(c), (5).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(8).
- Miss. Code Ann. § 25-61-11.1.
- Miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(19).
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d).