Gov. Phil Bryant was today awarded the Defender of Freedom Award by the National Rifle Association in recognition of his steadfast defense of the Second Amendment. The governor received the award during the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum during the 2014 NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis.
"The Second Amendment is part of the fabric of our nation and is especially important to many Mississippians," Gov. Bryant said. "I am honored to receive this award from the NRA, and I will continue working to protect Mississippian's gun ownership rights and the strong outdoor traditions in our state."
Gov. Bryant is an avid hunter and outdoorsman, is a lifetime member of the NRA and was endorsed by the NRA during his gubernatorial campaign. He is a past recipient of the Kirk Fordice Freedom Award presented by the Central Mississippi chapter of the NRA.
"I'm pleased to present Governor with NRA's "Defender of Freedom' award in recognition of his outstanding support of the Second Amendment and Mississippi's proud hunting heritage," said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "On behalf of our nearly 40,000 members in the State of Mississippi, I want to thank him for his leadership on issues affecting gun owners and sportsmen."
In 2012, Gov. Bryant supported a House Concurrent Resolution (No. 30) to amend the Mississippi Constitution to establish the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife as a constitutional right. Voters will have the opportunity to vote on this amendment in the November 2014 election.
Since becoming governor, Bryant has also signed many pro-gun measures into law:
* House Bill 695: granted Mississippi gun owners reciprocity in other states by authorizing the Department of Public Safety to enter into reciprocity agreements with states that require written agreements in order to recognize permits granted by Mississippi for the carrying of weapons.
* House Bill 455: repealed a provision of state law that "opened to public inspection" records of all gun purchases, including the name of the purchaser.
* House Bill 2: clarified the definition of "concealed carry" to make clear that a person may carry a visible, holstered pistol and to reaffirm that the Mississippi Constitution protects the right to openly carry a firearm. House Bill 2 also permits veterans and active duty military personnel who are at least 18 years of age to apply for a concealed carry permit. Civilian citizens must be at least 21 years of age to apply.
* House Bill 485: protects personal information collected from applicants for concealed carry permits by exempting the information from the Mississippi Public Records Act.
* House Bill 314: clarifies that, subject to narrow exceptions, any local ordinance attempting to restrict the carrying of firearms is preempted by state law.
House Bill 314 also makes clear that the state cannot confiscate ammunition, firearms or components of firearms from individuals who legally possess them during a declaration of martial law or following a natural disaster, and the state cannot impose additional restrictions on the possession, transfer or sale of firearms during such times.
* House Bill 764: exempts disabled veterans from paying concealed carry permit fees and renewal fees.
* Senate Bill 2425: establishes an annual Mississippi Second Amendment Weekend sales tax holiday that includes sales tax exemption on individual sales of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and certain hunting supplies. The first tax holiday weekend will be September 5-7, 2014.