Mississippi Firearms Bill Unpopular with NCAA Conference Chief

On February 7, 2018, House Bill 1083, proposing to allow the carrying of certain firearms in public, overwhelmingly passed the Mississippi House. The bill would allow those with enhanced concealed carry permits to carry in such places as university campuses, in courthouses, and at sporting events. NCAA Southeastern Conference Chief, Greg Sankey, wasted no time in expressing serious concerns about potentially negative repercussions befalling Mississippi universities, should the bill become law. Specifically, Sankey took issue with future implications on collegiate athletic events, noting that “it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively implicated.”

Sankey’s safety and attendance concerns were similarly echoed by University of Mississippi Chancellor, Jeffrey Vitter. In a recent statement, Vitter expressed a fear of placing the “campus community, law enforcement, and first responders at great risk,” stressing that university athletics are just one of many “sensitive places” that could be compromised by the presence of firearms.

Putting legislators and supporters of the bill on notice, Sankey made it clear that the SEC and its universities will not remain complacent amid the development of a law that threatens both the overall safety and the athletic spirit of Mississippi universities. If the bill becomes law, Sankey stated that the “SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors will consider existing SEC regulations and bylaws to determine appropriate modifications to scheduling, safety and officiating policies.”

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