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Speaker of the House Gunn speaks at paralegal assembly

Speaker of the House Gunn speaks at paralegal assembly Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn served as guest speaker for a paralegal assembly on Monday, April 17 in the McGowan Workforce Building on the Holmes Community College Ridgeland Campus. The program was organized by Paralegal Technology program coordinator/instructor  Darleen Dozier.

A member of the Republican Party, Rep. Gunn represents the 56th District, which includes the counties of Hinds and Madison. He has served in the Mississippi House since 2004, and became Speaker in 2012. Rep. Gunn is the first Republican to serve as Speaker of the Mississippi House since 1876. He serves as chair of the Compilation, Revision and Publication Committee.

A graduate of Clinton High School, he earned his B.B.A. from Baylor University and his J.D. from University of Mississippi School Of Law. As an attorney, Rep. Gunn is a member of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Hinds County Bar Association and the Mississippi Bar Association. He is married to the former Lisa Watkins and is of the Baptist faith.

Rep. Gunn spoke to the paralegal assembly attendees about his role as speaker of the house and how important it is to be informed citizens.  

"The people in Washington, D.C., and the people in Jackson, Mississippi, are making the rules. Like it or not, they may make a rule that you don't like. So it serves you well, as a citizen, whose life is affected by the rules, to pay attention to the rules being made. You yourself may need to get involved in the process.

"You don't have to be politically astute, but you need to be politically aware," Rep. Gunn said. "You need to read the newspapers. You need to listen to the news at night. You need to pay attention and see, what are they doing in Jackson? What kinds of things are they debating? What are they discussing? Is it going to affect my livelihood? Is it going to affect the way I raise my family? Are they going to pass some kind of law or rule that will affect the way I worship? So these are the things you need to be watching and paying attention to. Pay attention to what your representatives are doing."

Rep. Gunn went on to explain the role of lobbyists as the watchdogs of what's going on at the State Capitol, the role of the 33 governmental committees in dealing with various matters and the process of a bill becoming a law. He also explained how important it is for each person to make up his or her own mind on where they stand with various issues, and to do their part to take a stance for what they believe in.

 "I always encourage people when I speak to them: think for yourself. Decide what you stand for. Decide what your values are. Don't be a Democrat just because your mama and daddy are Democrats. Don't be a Republican just because your mama and daddy are Republicans. Think for yourself. Get the platform for the two parties – it's easy to find. Find out what they stand for, the things they believe in. Decide for yourself what you think the role of government is. This is a debate we have at the Capitol all session long. Every bit of policy that we make is based upon your view of the role of government. On what the government is supposed to do. 

"There are those on the extreme left, that think government is supposed to do a whole lot. They think government is supposed to take care of you, you are entitled to have certain things. Then there are those on the extreme right that say government should be very limited. Then you've got a whole host of people all along the spectrum in between those two points, who adopt some views and not others. I happen to be in that extreme right group. I think the role of government is very limited. I think the less government you have, the more freedom that you have. But with freedom comes more responsibilities, as well. So if you want more freedom, you've got to be willing to take on more responsibility."

Rep. Gunn continued his presentation, expressing his views on the economic downside of the lottery, and when he believes the government should step in on certain issues and when it should not. He also continued to encourage everyone to share their views with their local representatives, but cautioned them to realize that one long email was not going to change the direction of a vote on a certain bill.

"If I get a dozen phone calls on an issue, I think that's significant. And I do read every phone message and email to determine what it's about…I may not have time to read a big long email, but I'll read enough to figure out if people are for or against an issue and take that into consideration," Rep. Gunn said. "So I pay attention to every one of them. But on every issue, you have people for and against it. So you can't just take one phone call and say, oh this guy's for it, so my entire district is for it. And I have to bring my own personal views into the matter, as well. 

 "I pay attention to everything that comes across my desk. But I don't begin to get a feel for how my people stand on an issue until I get 10, 12 or 20 calls. Because you figure, let's say each one of those people represent 10 more who feel like they do. If I get 10 phone calls, well, there might be 100 people that feel that way. If I get 40 phone calls, that might be 400 people who probably feel that way. And you gage it that way…that's how I do it, anyway. For issues I feel strongly about, however, I don't care how many phone calls I get. On the lottery, for example, I'm not changing my position. I think I'm right economically, I think I'm right religiously, I think you will not find an economics book anywhere that tells you that the lottery is a solid economic system.

"This is not a democracy. A lot of people recoil when I say that, but we don't have a democracy in the United States of America, we have a republic. It is a representative form of government. A true democracy would mean we would all vote on everything, and the majority would win. We don't do that. We vote to elect people to represent us in Washington, in the city council, on the school board, in the State Capitol and they speak for us. That's why it is important for you to pay attention to who you vote for because that person is going to go down there and speak for you on all matters. They're going to talk, and they're going to vote, the way – hopefully – they told you they were going to vote."

For more information about Rep. Gunn and how to contact him, visit

For more information about the Holmes Paralegal Technology Program, contact Darleen Dozier at (601)605.5279 or 


IN THIS PHOTO: Pictured are (left to right) Angela Roland, Jessica Jones, Sydney Mack, Jason Boyte, Sergio Cuenca, Paralegal Tech program coordinator/instructor Darleen Dozier, Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, Jaylon Robinson, Corinne Crowder, Ann-Clark Price, and Taylor Russell.  



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