While the Mississippi State University Student Association Senate only voted on two pieces of legislation on Feb. 13, one of the resolutions sparked a long debate amongst the senators.
Resolution 49 was a continuation of old business which was tabled last semester, and it was passed quickly. The resolution expresses the need for the addition of hooks on the back of bathroom stall doors which are currently lacking them.
Resolution 50 sought to express student disapproval for House Bill 1083, which is a contentious piece of legislature in the Mississippi Congress. The bill proposes an amendment to state law, so enhanced conceal-and-carry gun owners may not only carry registered firearms on all public and government property, excluding courtrooms, but also be able to sue an institution if the right to do so is infringed.
MSU's President Mark Keenum raised concerns about the House Bill, as well as Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey. Both argue the new bill is too far-reaching and invasive to be safe, and Sankey wishes “athletic events and sports venues” be exempt from Bill 1083’s measures.
After Resolution 50 was presented, some senators quickly begin to challenge the idea of MSU’s right to refuse the law. Seeing as enhanced conceal-and-carry was made into law in 2011 with House Bill 506, MSU’s own policies are preventing registered persons with enhanced conceal-and-carry firearms from entering classrooms, residence halls and sports events.
Senator Josh McCoy referred to MSU’s own Operating Policy 91.120, which states the OP receives its authority from “university regulation, Institution of Higher Learning policies and state law.” McCoy argued MSU is at odds with state law currently, and Bill 1083 would only provide a route for citizens to correct that infringement. Several senators similarly said it is not the university’s place to deny citizens their legal rights, even if the university disagrees with the law.
Sen. Juan Benavides, who introduced the bill, countered the arguments by saying MSU has dedicated security, which already provides safety for the campus without the need for outside weaponry. In addition, he argued those uninvolved with the university should not be able to undermine campus policy.
Following more similarly structured debate, the Senate called for a vote. Being standard protocol for resolutions, the legislation was put to a voice vote. A voice vote entails a time for senators to say either “yay” or “nay,” and the vote is called based on the volume of each side. The resolution failed.
While the exact number is impossible to know, there was a sizable minority of senators who voted in favor of the resolution, but the overwhelming majority voted in favor of House Bill 1083.