Know your rights: Hattiesburg gun vendors talk gun laws - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Know your rights: Hattiesburg gun vendors talk gun laws


More than half of Mississippians own a firearm, but that doesn't mean they know their rights.

"If you are going to point a gun at somebody be prepared to use it," said Lamar County Sheriff, Danny Rigel.

Rigel has good reason to say this.

"I worked a strong armed robbery where somebody came in got the cashier to open up the cash register, and was taking the money out of the cash register. The cashier pulled the gun out from under the counter and pointed it at him, but froze, and he took the gun away from her and shot her in the chest," said Rigel.

Rigel says the woman did survive, but what if you had to defend yourself? Rigel says under a certain doctrine you can defend yourself, your home, your business, even your car.

"The Castle Doctrine was enacted in 2006 for the state of Mississippi. Basically, it says that you have the right to use deadly force in protecting yourself if you fear that you are in imminent danger, or that someone else is in imminent danger," said Rigel.

But there is an exclusion.

"If somebody breaks into your house and you tell them to leave, and they grab your TV, and start running out the door, that doesn't give you the right to just shoot them as they're running out of the house," said Rigel.

Protecting yourself is just one reason why people buy guns, Leaf River Sports in Hattiesburg sells the firearm and ammunition for the other.  

"This is a semi-automatic hunting rifle," said Leaf River Sports, Gun Sales Associate, Zachary Downs as he showed off his wares.

Downs says there a few requirements to purchasing a gun in Mississippi.

"For a hand gun, the purchaser must be at least 21 years of age, and must be a resident of the state of Mississippi. For a long gun, we can sell a long gun to anyone who is over the age of 18 from any other neighboring state,"said Downs.

Downs says there is no registration when it comes to owning a firearm, but there is a background check.

"ATF requirements are you come in to buy the gun you will have to fill out a form a 44-73 form. What that does that will get all your information. You will have to answer some questions," said Downs.

Your information is called in, red flags like: violent acts on your record, renouncing your citizenship, fugitive, drugs, any convictions, even dishonorable discharge from the military can result in a denied purchase.

"Typically, right off the bat they give me a proceed on the form, or they will give me a delay," said Downs.

No red flags, no delay, which means you can own a gun in a matter of minutes.

"Fifteen minutes. You are in and out of the door," said Downs.

At Brian's Pawn and Gun, Brian Evans says you won't leave his establishment with a gun if try to buy one for someone else. That is called a straw purchase, which is illegal, but there is a way it happens legally in the state.

"Say a momma or a daddy comes in with their 18-year-old son or daughter, and wants to buy them a hand gun, they can buy that gun and legally give it to them as a gift," said Evans.

Evans says he's not comfortable with that.

"To me, if I can't do a background check on the person who is receiving the gun, I would prefer not to sell them one," said Evans.

Rigel says owning a gun doesn't mean you can carry it anywhere or openly.

"To take it out of your vehicle, or to carry it on your person, you have to have a permit to carry. Permit to carry means it has to be concealed though; a lot of people think once they get that permit they can put it on a holster and go to Wal-Mart type stuff. Doesn't cover that. It has to be concealed,"said Rigel.

Above all Rigel stresses knowing your firearms, and how to handle them.

"How do you expect to defend yourself, or somebody else if you don't know what this gun is going to do when it fires," said Rigel.

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