Of late, the whole world, it seems, has been all aflurry about the “Guns Everywhere” bill in Georgia, HB60, recently signed by Governor Nathan Deal. This bill allows lawful Georgia Weapons Carry License holders to carry guns in bars, churches (with the permission of the church leadership), and in the unsecured parts of government buildings. The anti-gun factions have been most vocal, claiming as usual that this will lead to Blood In The Streets and a Return To The Wild West.
Of course, Georgia is not the first state to allow carry in these locations, and none of the other states have had any increase in gun usage in these locations. In fact, a study by the Richmond Times Dispatch showed a 5.2 percent decrease in crime involving firearms in bars in the state of Virginia in the first year following enactment of that state’s bar carry law. I would encourage a news outlet in Georgia to investigate HB60’s effects and report on it in July 2015. But, in the meantime, I will continue to breathe normally.
One of the places that “Everywhere” does not include in HB60, however, are schools. School carry was eliminated from the bill early on, because it created so much controversy.
So it comes as a surprise (to me at least) that there was another bill, HB826 (coincidentally sponsored by my State Senator, Lindsey Tippins), signed by Governor Deal yesterday. This bill changes how guns are treated in school zones, and it lists the people who are exempt from being considered in violation of the law. Exemption 6 says:
A person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10, when he or she is within a school safety zone or on a bus or other transportation furnished by a school or a person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10 when he or she has any firearm legally kept within a vehicle when such vehicle is parked within a school safety zone or is in transit through a designated school safety zone;
This changes the old law which only exempted GWCL holders who were in a school parking lot picking someone up. Note that GWCL holders are now exempted everywhere “within a school safety zone.” And, just to make it clear, another part of the law says
‘School safety zone’ means in or on any real property or building owned by or leased to any school or postsecondary institution.
So, this law, which goes into effect July 1, legalizes campus carry in Georgia.
Like most people, I was surprised and caught unaware that this was in the offing. But I am glad to see it.
However, I am cautious of how this will be received. I think my feelings are best echoed by Jerry Henry, the Executive Director of GeogiaCarry.org, who said in an email to members
What this means for you is that, according to GeorgiaCarry.Org, beginning on July 1 it will be legal to carry a weapon on school grounds. There is, however, some debate about the new law, with some in law enforcement and schools claiming that the new law must mean something else. As a result, GeorgiaCarry.Org asks its members to exercise common sense when carrying on school grounds so as to avoid bad publicity with respect to the hypersensitivity likely to be displayed towards a weapon in the school environment. This will have the added benefit of giving the legislature no good or valid reason to re-criminalize weapons in school when the General Assembly meets again.
Lacking any stupid person flaunting a gun needlessly at some school event, we should be on our way to better protecting our children.
Thank you, Governor Deal, Lindsey Tippins, and the Georgia Legislature!