While we were all caught up with National Signing Day 2.0, a potentially significant development passed through the Mississippi House of Representatives. By a vote of 80 to 29, House Bill 1083 was approved, which allows concealed carry handguns to be carried on public property — which would include sporting venues at Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Astute readers will recall that Arkansas passed a similar law last spring, but quickly moved to allow state universities to exempt themselves from the law. Amid considerable uproar, the state government passed the original law on a Wednesday and then passed the sporting event exemption on the following Thursday.

Mississippi is now working on its own version of that same law, and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey wrote to Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Mississippi State president Mark Keenum on Wednesday, strongly urging each of them to use their political influence to create a similar exemption for sporting events — or else.

Here’s the letter.

Dear President Keenum and Chancellor Vitter:

This letter is in response to proposed House Bill 1083 and its potential to introduce concealed carry weapons into stadiums, arenas and other college sports venues.

The University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University are founding members of the
Southeastern Conference and each has established a long history of working with public safety officials to provide a safe environment for intercollegiate athletic competition.

Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases
meaningful safety concerns and is expected to negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics programs at your universities in several ways. If HB 1083 is adopted to permit weapons in college sports venues, it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi’s universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively impacted. When similar laws have been introduced in the past, the SEC office has received clear statements of concern from our member universities due to safety concerns associated with the passage of such laws intended to allow weapons at our athletic events and sports venues.

It is our desire to see athletic events and sports venues exempted from proposed House Bill 1083.

The SEC’s universities work closely with public safety officials to ensure the safety of participants and fans in our competitive venues. We will continue to closely monitor the status of House Bill 1083. In the event House Bill 1083 becomes law and includes concealed carry in college sports venues, the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors will consider existing SEC regulations and bylaws to determine appropriate modifications to scheduling, safety and officiating policies.

Sankey doesn’t law out any specific things that will or won’t happen in the event HB 1083 passes with no exemption, because guns at SEC events is uncharted territory for all involved. Here are the key phrases:

If HB 1083 is adopted to permit weapons in college sports venues, it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi’s universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively impacted.

In the event House Bill 1083 becomes law and includes concealed carry in college sports venues, the SEC’s Presidents and Chancellors will consider existing SEC regulations and bylaws to determine appropriate modifications to scheduling, safety and officiating policies.

In short, if this passes, we could take home games from you because no refs will want to work a game where the entire crowd is allowed to pack heat.

For his part, Vitter agrees with Sankey.

“If this bill were to pass,” he wrote in a letter published by Ole Miss, via SEC Country, “it would negatively impact the University of Mississippi’s ability to continue to uphold the safety and security for our students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors on all our campuses — the Oxford campus, our regional campuses, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.”

This will definitely be something to keep an eye on moving forward. HB 1083 still must pass through the Mississippi Senate and earn the signature of governor Phil Bryant to become law.

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.