Oxford seeks AG opinion on employee gun possession during work hours

Published 1:57 am Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion recently at the request of the Oxford Board of Aldermen that municipalities have the authority to adopt employment policies restricting concealed and open carry of weapons.

According to the opinion released March 21, the Board of Aldermen instructed City Attorney Pope Mallette to seek the AG’s opinion regarding the city’s ability to impose restrictions on its employees’ ability to carry firearms during the weekend.

“Specifically, the city of Oxford wishes to inquire whether it may prohibit the carrying of weapons, either concealed or open by on-duty municipal employees – other than law enforcement officers – while the employees are conducting city business, while on city property or not.

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The opinion states that “it is the opinion of this office that the city may prohibit the carrying of firearms, concealed or open, by employees while such employees are on duty, both on and off of municipal property.”

“Public employers obviously have a substantial interest in protecting both employees in the workplace as well as citizens, vendors, contractors or others that may be there,” the opinion states. “Any regulations, rules or ordinances regarding carrying of weapons by employees should be accompanied by such findings when being adopted or promulgated.”

Mallette said the request for the opinion was made to help the Oxford Human Resource Department with the review of its employee handbook.

“The HR department just needed to know what limitations there are on its ability to have policies related to firearms at work, whether at City Hall or elsewhere, before it recommends a specific policy to the Board for adoption,” Mallette said Friday.

Braxton Tullos, Human Resources Director for the city of Oxford, said no new policy has yet to be discussed or approved by the Board. The request for the opinion, he said, was only to determine what the city is legally allowed to do in regards to weapons.

“Now that we have the Attorney General’s Opinion, it is up to the Board of Aldermen to determine what restrictions, if any, to place on weapons,” Tullos said.