New Georgia Law: The Safe Carry Protection ActWritten on May 2, 2014
The times are a-changing when it comes to where licensed owners can carry guns in Georgia. On April 24th, Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill that will drastically change where a person with a permit to carry a concealed weapon can bring a gun. The law, which is called The Safe Carry Protection Act, goes into effect July 1.
Let’s start with what the law is now when it comes to carrying a concealed firearm. Georgia law contains two distinct areas when it comes to having a concealed gun when licensed to do so. The first is a public gathering. A public gathering is defined (but not limited to) the following: Athletic or sporting events, churches or church functions, political rallies, any government building and bars (not necessarily restaurants with bars in them). Patrons currently can bring guns into bars if the owner specifically allows it. Under the current law, carrying a gun at any location designated as a public place is a misdemeanor.
The second area under current Georgia law is schools. It is against the law to carry any weapon within 1,000 feet of property owned by a public or private school. Violation of this law is a felony. With recent events of school violence involving firearms, this is an area close attention is given to.
All of this is going to change on July 1. The law Governor Deal signed includes several provisions that will relax the restrictions on where a gun may be carried.
Churches: Church leaders will now decide whether to allow their members to bring guns into their buildings. That includes services as well as other church functions.
Bars: Customers may bring guns into bars unless the owner tells them to leave.
Schools: Local school boards will now vote on whether or not they want to allow their teachers and other staff members to be armed on school property. Specific training would be required.
Airports: Guns may now be carried in common areas of airports. If a gun is accidentally brought to the security checkpoint, an individual may leave with the firearm without being arrested.
Government buildings: Guns may now be brought into government buildings that don’t have security checkpoints or metal detectors. Think libraries but not the courthouse.
These changes are considered drastic by some. As with any type of change, not everybody is going to agree with it, adhere to it or be aware of it. That’s when you want to make sure your rights are protected.
The bill also expands Georgia’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Before, a person couldn’t use that defense if a banned firearm was used in self defense. Under the new law, a Stand Your Ground defense could be presented even if a banned or illegal weapon is used.
If you are carrying your weapon, and are licensed to have it, into an area where you are lawfully entitled to do so, you shouldn’t expect to have any problems. But if you do encounter an issue, or are even charged with a crime related to where you are carrying your gun, you will need effective legal counsel to protect you and your rights.
If you need assistance with this issue, or any other legal concerns, please contact the Silverbach Group, LLC at 770-635-0334.