Thursday, April 24, 2014

GA: Governor Deal Signs Modest Gun Reform Bill

Governor Deal signed Georgia's modest gun law reform today, 23 April, 2014.  Gun law reform has been stalled in Georgia for several years, leading to the measure that makes several modest changes in Georgia's law.   None of the changes are particularly radical.   All, with one possible  exception, have been adopted in other states before this law was passed.  From
The bill makes several changes to state law. It allows those with a license to carry to bring a gun into a bar without restriction and into some government buildings that don't have certain security measures. It also allows religious leaders to decide whether it's OK for a person with a carry license to bring a gun into their place of worship.
Here is a more comprehensive list from a previous article.
  • Removal of fingerprinting for renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses (“WCL”).
  • Prohibiting the state from creating and maintaining a database of WCL holders.
  • Creation of an absolute defense for the legal use of deadly force in the face of a violent attack.
  • Removal of the sweeping restrictions on legally carrying a firearm with a WCL in bars, leaving this decision to private property owners.
  • Lowering the age to obtain a concealed WCL for self-defense from 21 to 18 for active duty military, with specific training.
  • Repealing the unnecessary and duplicative state-required license for a firearms dealer, instead requiring only a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
  • Preempting a ban on firearms in public housing, ensuring that the right to self-defense should not be infringed based on where one calls home.
  • Codifying the ability to legally carry, with a WCL, in sterile/non-secure areas of airports.
  • Incorporation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act for mental health reporting.
  • Stating that under a declared state of emergency, all law-abiding gun owners will not have their Second Amendment rights restricted or infringed by executive authority through Emergency Powers protection.
  • Strengthening current firearms preemption statutes through further clarification of the regulatory authority of local governments, excluding firearm discharge ordinances.
  • Allowing school systems to decide whether staff and faculty may carry a firearm on school property, pending approved training, similar to the NRA’s National School Shield program.
  • Allowing the lawful carry by WCL holders in government buildings where it is not currently restricted or security screening personnel are posted during regular business hours.
  •  Hunting with suppressors allowed.
  • Opt in for Churches, rather than traditional private property rights, and reduction for of the penalty for carrying in a church that does not opt in to a $100 civil fine.

The one provision that I have not seen in other states is the provision that may create a legal defense for people who use a firearm in justified self defense, even if they have previously been convicted of a felony.   It is common for people who have had to go through the trauma of defending themselves with lethal force, to then face mandatory prison terms because they were not allowed to possess a firearm due to a previous felony conviction.     I recall one case where the defender managed to disarm his attacker and use the weapon to defend his family.   He still faced prosecution, even though the firearm that he "possessed" had been brought to the situation by the hands of his attacker.

I have only read Collin Goddard, as an anti-second amendment advocate, make this claim, so I am not certain that it is a real part of the law.   Here is his claim, from
Colin Goddard, who survived the 2007 campus shooting at Virginia Tech, told Georgia Public Broadcasting he's alarmed by a provision that waives criminal prosecution of felons who use illegal firearms in the act of self-defense.
I do not think that felons should be prosecuted for justifiably defending themselves against deadly force.    Perhaps an attorney can read the statute and determine if the above is an actual effect of the law. 

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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