Mississippi: House approves bill limiting judges’ ability to ban guns in courthouses; rejected amendment tried to protect judge targeted for attack

A bill that prohibit judges from banning guns in courthouses was approved by the Mississippi House yesterday. HB 571 as amended modifies a 2011 law (discussed here) allowing anyone with a concealed carry permit who took a gun safety court to carry their guns into courthouses but still prohibiting courtroom carry when a judicial proceeding was taking place. The issue came to a head recently when the Lowndes County Chancery Court in late 2015 issued an order extending the courtroom ban to 200 feet outside the courtroom during judicial proceedings (news on issue here and here).

HB 571 would specifically limit the definition of “courtroom” to

the actual room in which a judicial proceeding occurs, including any jury room, witness room, judge’s chamber, office housing the judge’s staff, or similar room. “Courtroom” shall not mean hallways, courtroom entrances, courthouse grounds, lobbies, corridors, or other areas within a courthouse which are generally open to the public for the transaction of business outside of an active judicial proceeding.

One member of the House offered a floor amendment to allow Judge Sadie Holland of Lee County to continue to have the ability to ban guns from the courthouse. Judge Holland was the target of an attack in 2013 when a letter containing ricin was sent to her. The amendment failed on a voice vote.