The Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act (HB60), called “Guns Everywhere” by its detractors, has created a bit of confusion in the general public, so I thought I’d go over some points very briefly that you can tack on your refrigerator as a daily reminder of how safe, or unsafe, Georgia remains after HB60’s passage.
I get asked lots of questions:
1. “Does everyone need a weapons license?” Anyone over 18 not ineligible to possess a firearm can have a handgun on their person at their property, place of business and in their car. No license required. Scary? Nope, it’s pretty much been that way for a long time.
2. “I’m against drunk people having guns, why does Georgia let people carry in a bar?”” Anyone with a Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL) can now carry in a bar! Shocking, no? Well, they could before. Only difference is that before you had to have permission and now you have to be told you can’t. Ohh, not that big a deal, huh?
3. “I can’t believe that my church has to let gun toters in!” Yes, those dastardly GWCL holders can carry in church now. Oh, but only if the church allows it. Turns out that is the same rule pretty much everywhere. If a private property owner doesn’t want guns on their property, they can have that rule. Is private property ownership scary to you?
4. “But those GWCL holders can carry into government buildings now! How can that be?” Well, since government types didn’t bother to screen before HB60, they were apparently okay with letting criminals into their buildings undetected, so why the upset that the licensed GWCL holders can come in now? Want to keep all guns out? Provide security, but make no mistake, illegal gun possession in City Hall has been going on for years and you didn’t get too worked up about it.
5. “I heard that courthouses aren’t safe anymore.” Under HB60, no one can carry in a courthouse unless exempt because of being a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, medical examiner, etc. Same rule as before. Technically, a courthouse doesn’t need a security station since guns aren’t allowed there, so the criminals and GWCL holders should leave their guns in their cars. Alas, if the criminals don’t follow the law, the courthouse security folks are there to scan for weapons just in case. Question, if you don’t trust the criminals in the courthouse, why did you trust them in government buildings all these years?
6. “I think GWCL holders should be fingerprinted!” True, on renewal, HB60 provides that no new fingerprints are needed. The authorities still do a criminal background check though. And since one’s fingerprints don’t change, we don’t have to waste time on that anymore.
7. “But schools can now let staff and teachers have guns? I’m against that!” Well, so are most school districts apparently, but now they have the option which they didn’t have before. Are you really against choice?
8. “I heard the government can’t keep a database of GWCL holders?” Yep, that’s true. Against that you say? Why? If you’re not coming to get my gun, why do you need a statewide database? If you insist on a statewide database, I think maybe you do want to come after my guns. If so, don’t come alone, you’ll need help.
9. “I heard that hunters can use suppressors now! What if they shoot me?” Yep, they will be allowed to use suppressors. If they shoot you, you wouldn’t have heard the bang anyway. Relax. Stay on your land and don’t dress up like a deer, chances are you’ll be okay.
10. “Is it true cops can’t stop someone carrying a gun?” No, that is not true. Any officer, any time, can stop anyone carrying a weapon and ask them for their GWCL. The citizen can tell the officer to take a hike too. What the cop can’t do is DETAIN someone just because they have a weapon. Now if the cop has some articulable reason for the detention, they can detain the person. But just possessing a car doesn’t let a cop pick you out on the road and stop you, does it? Don’t they have to have a reason? They do! Same with guns.
Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice where he focuses on personal injury cases. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at [email protected] to comment on this article or suggest articles about the law that you'd like to see.