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In the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina shootings last week, our hearts in Mississippi are broken for the Emanuel AME Church and for the families of the victims.  And we are equally unified in our desire for swift and certain judgment against the killer.  But the tragic event in South Carolina is unrelated to Mississippi’s decision to adopt the state flag over 14 years ago.  The fact is that the people of Mississippi voted to select our current flag in 2001.  As far as I am concerned, the status of the Mississippi flag is a decision only to be made by the people of Mississippi.  According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s elections records, the three counties of House District 77 voted 3-1 for the Mississippi flag:  Simpson (73%); Rankin (75%) and Smith (85%).  As your State Representative I have and will continue to respect the decision of my constituents in this regard.
What we all as Americans need to do is to pray and work together for changed hearts in our society.  We should all lift up prayers to break down the true source of hatred and division within the human heart.  We should all work to see that violent crimes like this are punished swiftly and severely.  We should all be prepared to defend ourselves, our families and our churches against would-be killers.  Instead of being divided and distracted, we need to be unified in praying and working so that another tragic event like the Charleston shooting doesn’t happen again.
Rep. Andy Gipson


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