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Corps of Engineers clarifies firearms rules in light of new carry law

The Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says federal regulations still prohibit the possession of firearms on Corps property, in light of Mississippi’s new open carry law.

Lawmakers passed last session House Bill 2, which allows firearms to be openly carried without a permit. Firearms cannot be concealed without a concealed carry permit.

In a press release, Corps officials said a 2009 federal law that allows guns in national parks could lead to some confusion. That statute did not include parks governed by the Corps. Violating the Corps’ no-firearms policy is punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000, six months’ imprisonment, or both.

Exceptions include firearms carried by law enforcement, those being transported between hunting and fishing sites (as long as they’re unloaded), those being used at authorized firing ranges, or carriers who have received written permission from the district commander.

Corps figures say that more than 3 million people visit annually the 262,000-acre recreational areas under the Vicksburg District’s purview. That includes, campgrounds, playgrounds, swimming areas, trails, fishing areas, boat ramps, marinas and marinas. The economic impact of those visitors, the Corps estimates, is $125 million a year, and supported 1,700 jobs.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood last week issued an opinion on House Bill 2. It said that people who are not a convicted felon can openly carry firearms, except where prohibited. Examples include private businesses that choose not to allow customers to carry, and on certain state and federal property, like Corps installations and courthouses.

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