Kudos to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Investigator Jamie Singley for their adherence and support of Mississippi Gun Laws and Mississippi Attorney General opinions.
What started as a possible confrontation between a brand new enhanced carrier and a sheriff’s deputy, ended in a success story.
It happened at an East Marion High School ballgame on Friday night November 22, just six days after Bill Blair of Mize, Mississippi a young minister of a Magee church entered the gate.
Blair had just completed an Enhanced Carry course in Collins, MS taught by Rick Ward of Concealed Weapon Carry, Inc. the previous Saturday. Blair had been taught that he could in fact take a concealed firearm onto school property and into an athletic event with his enhanced concealed endorsement. He had obtained his endorsement sticker on Wednesday, just two days before the incident.
Blair entered the game near Columbia with his wife to watch their son, a band member from Mize. However, when he walked in, he saw a deputy sheriff with a hand-held electronic “wand” screening people for weapons. Knowing the deputy would surely find his weapon, Blair told the officer that he had the gun. The officer told him he would have to take it back to his car. Blair tried to explain to the officer that he had an enhanced carry endorsement and that it was his understanding the law allowed him to carry in ball games.
Blair complied with the deputy without argument after, according to Blair, the deputy indicated he didn’t care about the law and in fact said, “I am the law.” After entering the game and getting settled, Blair texted his instructor at about 9 p.m. while watching the game. He explained the incident and asked for verification. Ward explained he had that right based on an Attorney General Opinion issued October 1, 2013.
Blair was instructed not to discuss it with the officer any further and never argue with one on the scene. Blair insisted that he had not argued and complied with all commands by the officer even though he felt the officer had been rude. Ward explained he would contact the sheriff’s office.
Ward then looked up the Marion County Sheriff’s Office website and also found a Facebook site where they received complaints. Ward drafted a letter to the sheriff and attached a copy of the AG opinion that said (at the top of page six), “our conclusion is that the school district may not bar enhanced permit holders with concealed pistols and revolvers from entry into a school facility or athletic event to which the general public is otherwise normally permitted.”
Within ten minutes Ward received a response from the Senior Investigator asking for a physical description of the deputy and the ball game where he was located. They exchanged several text messages back and forth. After the information was supplied, within a matter of only a few more minutes, Ward had received a written apology and assurance that the sheriff’s department was aware of the law and had full intentions of abiding by it. The response assured Ward that the deputy would receive re-training the following week and the entire department would be notified of their intent to comply. The investigator further asked Ward to notify the complainant and offer their apologies plus encouragement to call the sheriff for his apology on Monday. The investigator further thanked Ward in a final text for his professional handling of the incident.
Marion County Sheriff’s Office
I understand and do apologize for the confusion and would also ask that you tell Mr. Blair that we apologize. This will be addressed and please tell him to feel free to contact me. This is Investigator Jamie Singley and I will also be passing this information on to Sheriff Berkley Hall. Once again thank you for the constructive criticism and the way that you approached this issue.
Blair was flabbergasted. He had no idea that anything would be done, especially in a timely manner. He could not believe that his complaint had reached a senior staff member in the sheriff’s department and a written apology had been made, along with a fix in place for the problem before he even returned home from the ballgame.
This is truly a success story and we appreciate the way the Marion County Sheriff’s Department handled it promptly, professionally and promising.