Mississippi State Representative Andy Gipson (R-Braxton) and Mississippi State Senator Giles Ward (R-Louisville) both received the Defender of Freedom Award from the National Rifle Association’s (NRA’s) Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) this week in recognition of their legislative accomplishments in support of the Second Amendment.
Both men sponsored and helped pass legislation during the 2013 Legislative Session protecting the Second Amendment rights of Mississippians. Specifically, they fought to pass House Bill 2 (HB2), authored by Rep. Gipson, which clarified certain provisions of the concealed weapons law in Mississippi. HB2 codifies in statute citizens’ rights to carry a concealed or unconcealed weapon for self defense, consistent with the plain language of the Mississippi Constitution.
Several months after Governor Bryant signed the bill into law, a Hinds County Circuit Court judge ruled the law “unconstitutionally vague.” Rep. Gipson, Sen. Ward, Speaker Gunn and other legislators filed a brief with the Mississippi Supreme Court in support of the law. On August 29, the Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously overturned the Hinds County Circuit judge’s injunction, deeming HB2 law.
Tara Mica, NRA-ILA’s Mississippi State Liaison said the presentation of this award is the NRA’s way of recognizing outstanding legislative accomplishments in support of the Second Amendment, including but not limited to, sponsorship and passage of HB2.
“Personal protection options for law-abiding Mississippians would be far more limited if it weren’t for the determined efforts of Rep. Gipson and Sen. Ward,” she said.
Both Rep. Gipson and Sen. Ward recognized the high honor of being recipients of the Defender of Freedom Award.
“I am very honored to receive the NRA’s Defender of Freedom Award, and I am pleased to accept it on behalf of all Mississippians who stand strong for the constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” said Rep. Gipson. “I’d also like to thank Chairman Ward and the 80-plus House and Senate members who joined with us in support of the law on appeal to the Supreme Court.”
“Of course it is humbling to be honored by such a respected organization as the NRA, but this important legislation would not have passed were it not for the stalwart support of many other conservative, freedom-loving members of the Legislature,” said Sen. Ward. “When I first ran for the Senate, my campaign turned on the issue of Second Amendment rights. I’m so pleased the Mississippi Legislature and I had this opportunity to make a strong statement regarding our continued belief and support of this important right afforded us by both the US and Mississippi Constitutions.”