Pat Harrison complying with gun laws after civilian complaint

Pat Harrison complying with gun laws after civilian complaint

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Pat Harrison Waterway District, which covers 15 counties, is complying with state law regarding gun laws in the parks after violating state law for several years.

Gun rights advocate Rick Ward addressed the district's board in June, notifying them of its violation because of signs prohibiting weapons in the parks. The board voted unanimously in August to comply with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries regulations, and the vote became official when the minutes were approved in late September.

"We have public officials that keep refusing to comply with the law, and the sad part about it is we have to, out of our own pockets, file civil suits to make this happen," Ward said, citing the other 13 similar cases he has handled with counties and cities in the Pine Belt.

Ward cited Mississippi Code 45-9-101(13), where the state legislature in 2010 removed the word "parks," so that state parks would be included in the list of places where guns were allowed. This followed a federal law passed in 2009 that allowed weapons in federal parks, so long as it did not violate state laws.

Pat Harrison must either take signs down, or change the verbiage, to comply with the allowance of guns on the grounds, including regular and enhanced permits. The board's attorney, Jolly Matthews, said he did not know of a timeline the board was following for making those changes.