Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the "Church Protection Act" into law Friday.
The law allows church members to act as armed security, as long as they have permits and firearms training. It even permits church members to use deadly force, if need be.
But as WHBQ learned, there's a clause in the law that actually broadens gun owners' rights throughout the state, not just in the church.
Some Mississippi legislators said the bill could have been called the "Mississippi Concealed Carry Law," because it lets law abiding citizens conceal and carry without a permit.
"I have been carrying ever since the law passed for open carry," said Dennis Koontz as he walked around a Horn Lake gun shot. He had a 40-caliber pistol on his side, but he does not have a permit.
Now, under the Church Protection Act, he can conceal the same gun.
The interpretation comes from the closing lines of the new law. It reads as follows:
"A license under this section is not required for a loaded or unloaded pistol or revolver to be carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster, shoulder holster or in a purse or handbag."
"I think the Second Amendment gives us a right to carry weapons," Koontz said. "We shouldn't have to get a permit or (be) paying anybody to do something."
Some gun owners in the Magnolia State disagreed. They said not requiring a permit is a bad idea.
"It shows that you accomplished something," Derek Hinds said of permits.
"That is your permit. It is just like a driver's license," gun owner James Clark said. "That permit goes to you. It would cover your backside."
The truth, we learned from legislators, is that getting a basic conceal carry permit in Mississippi has always been fairly easy.
You pay the money, you pass the background check and you get the permit. No training is required.
The new law does not take effect on July 1, like some others. It was written in such a way that it takes effect immediately.
Legislators said they hope that by encouraging more people to conceal carry, more people will apply for enhanced carry permits that require extensive class work and training. And in turn, those people will be allowed to carry concealed in most places in the state.
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