Georgia’s new gun law went in effect today (July 1).
HB 60, which passed both the House and Senate by large margins (roughly along party lines), expands the list of places where Georgians possessing a ‘carry license’ can legally possess a firearm to include schools, bars, churches, and government buildings.
In large part, the law allows local governments and private property owners to choose whether or not to allow guns within the locations previously off limits by state law.
Although national news sources have made much of the new law, its effect to average citizens will not be significant. Gun owners retaining a license to carry a firearm will likely want to research and inquire as to whether or not a gun is allowed before they pack- but claims that citizens are confused and concerned are, in large part, exaggerated.
Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby told fyn he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
“I really don’t see any reason to be concerned, if there are problems with it, we will address them.”
Captain Frank Reynolds, spokesman for the Pickens County Sherriff’s office, advises gun owners to use good judgment and be considerate while carrying.
“While the law expands the places in which citizens can carry, it might not always be a good idea to.” Reynolds, who has spent 20 years in law enforcement, encouraged citizens to “carry responsibly to minimize fear and concern.”
In response to the concern that some citizens might not understand the law Reynolds added:
“If you are unsure, ask.”
On Tuesday, a resident of Pickens County attempted to enter the court house with a firearm but was stopped by law enforcement. The citizen cited the new law but was informed that permission to carry a firearm lies with the county.
The citizen put the gun in his car and later returned to the courthouse.
Reynolds explained that Sherriff’s departments have a constitutional duty to protect jury rooms.
Places previously prohibited by state law will soon likely have a prominent sign stating the preference of the local government or property owner.
Blue Ridge mayor, Donna Whitener told fyn that the city will likely take up the matter of public carry during meetings in response to the new law.
While noting that a check point would entail substantial costs, she added:
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to have guns during a public meeting when tempers might flare.”
The law also legalizes the use of silencers for hunting on private property (with the owner’s permission) and allows school staff members to carry guns in school zones.
It also allows congregations to choose whether to allow licensed gun holders inside the sanctuary and allows active members of the military the ability to obtain a carry permit at 18 years of age. The minimum age for civilians remains at 21.