Gov. Phil Bryant now has House Bill 1139, and has until March 25 to sign it into law, which he is expected to do.
On Monday (March 18), Bryant did sign Senate Bill 2048, immediately making crossbows legal during all open archery seasons, and insuring that both crossbows and regular bows are legal during any open deer season.
On 1139, Rep. Scott Bounds (R-Philadelphia), the chairman of the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee who authored the bill, promised in an e-mail to Mississippi Sportsman that he would call the legislation before the House for concurrence as soon as it hit the calendar. He also predicted it would easily pass.
Last Thursday, the bill hit the calendar, Bounds got it before the House and it passed unanimously, 119-0.
Once signed by the Governor, the bill will allow landowners or leaseholders of private lands, and their guests, to use their weapon of choice during any primitive weapon season that begins after Nov. 30.
That will not include the special antlerless deer only season now set by the MDWFP in early November, nor will it include any public lands. There will still be primitive weapon seasons in early December and late January, but hunters on private lands that fit the description can use regular guns.
The bill struggled through the Senate, mainly because of confusion over the language and from some opposition from gun dealers who argued they would be stuck with inventory already ordered. That inventory includes the breech-loading centerfire rifles that were already legal.
That led to an amendment that delayed the effective date of the bill until July 1 2014, giving dealers another year to unload their inventory.
"That makes very little sense to anyone, that one-year delay," said Keith White of Jackson. "Why would anybody go out and spend $800 for a gun, like a .35 Whelen rifle with a scope, to use it one season, when they know the rules will allow them to use their regular gun next year? That is just plain stupid. This bill is a long time in coming and should not be delayed a year to pacify 50 or 100 dealers, when it really isn't going to do them any good.
"Even if people would still buy those guns, it makes no sense to delay the bill for 100 dealers and deny 250,000 hunters their choice of weapon."