Mississippi: School Hunter Safety Course Legislation Signed into Law

Contact: Clay Chester, Southeastern States Coordinator

On June 25, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1577 into law. The legislation, sponsored by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Speaker Philip Gunn, authorizes a hunter safety course for students in Grades 7 through 12 that will satisfy the hunter education course requirement for purchasing a hunting license.

Adding a hunter safety course to a student’s elective academic curriculum supports efforts to recruit the next generation of hunters. Offering hunter education courses in schools also encourages youth to become active in the outdoors to combat sedentary behavior and improve physical health.

The State Board of Education (Board) will consult with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) to prepare resources and guidelines for local school boards to develop the courses. The hunter safety courses can be conducted during the day or as an after-school program and will be designed to expose students to firearm safety. The statute clarifies that the use of operable weapons and live ammunition in the course is prohibited, and that the instructor must be well  trained and credentialed to provide instruction in the safe handling of firearms.

The law will be effective on July 1, 2020, and courses may begin in the 2020-2021 school year. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation would like to thank the Caucus, the Governor, the MDWFP and the Board for supporting hunter recruitment efforts through their work to pass this legislation.

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A key component of the American System of Conservation Funding, the Pittman- Robertson Act directs excise taxes on firearms, ammo, and archery equipment to wildlife conservation. Since its inception in 1937 the Act has generated more than $12 billion towards conservation. However, there has been a loss of 5 million hunters in the past decade. One proposed solution to help fund conservation is to dedicate lottery proceeds for conservation purposes. Would you support this effort in your state?

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