Hattiesburg settles on firearm sign suit, others wait for approval

Hattiesburg settles on firearm sign suit, others wait for approval

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg reached a settlement in March with a Collins man who said the city's firearms signs were in violation of Mississippi Code.Rick Ward filed the original complaint last summer, and the city has since removed all signs that restrict firearms from public buildings, according to city attorney Charles Lawrence.

"My goal is just to get these public officials to comply with the law," said Ward, who said signs on government buildings around the Pine Belt restricted certain gun carriers from rights they had under state code.

Ward also filed complaints against Forrest County, the City of Laurel, Jones County and several others across the state.

Forrest County changed their signs several months ago and have a pending court date. The county attorney for Jones County, Wayne Thompson said the board members are "in complete agreement" with making sure their signs comply with the law.

"If you feel like you've got to reword them, do that, but make those comply with the law as well," explained Ward of his hope for action on these signs.

According to Hattiesburg's council clerk, the city council has never passed an ordinance regarding guns or voted to approve the posting of signs prohibiting guns in city buildings. Hattiesburg Public Works Director Larry Barnes said department directors meet with an employee from Water and Billing to discuss signs that will be posted, and that employee then forwards the information to the mayor.

City attorney Lawrence said moving forward, renderings of the signs will be sent to him to send to the attorney general for approval before posting permanently.