A significantly weakened SB 291 passed out of committee Tuesday. Yesterday’s Atlanta Gun Rights Examiner article incorrectly reported that a provision affecting the airport had been amended out of SB 291. The amendment actually relates to several other parts of the bill, including a provision in the original bill that would have repealed the requirement that a person with an openly exposed handgun have a license. Georgia is one of only 13 states with such a requirement. Other states include New Jersey, Massachussetts, Maryland, and Hawaii.
The committee amendment also retains the provision that makes it illegal to conceal a handgun without a holster.
The amendment also removed the provision that would have made it legal to carry concealed weapons other than handguns, such as pocketknives.
The amended SB 291 still does not touch upon Georgia’s confusing public gathering law, except to insert a provision relating to being armed in a car while picking up passengers at the airport. This provision was undoubtedly inserted to address the ruling of a federal judge who declared that a Georgia legislator did not mean what he said when he wrote HB 89 in the last session. SB 291 would not otherwise affect airport property.
The bill extends the period of ineligibility for those convicted of a violent misdemeanor from 5 to 7 years and shortens the current law’s ineligibility period for those convicted of technical weapons offenses, such as carrying without a license or carrying concealed without a holster, from 5 to three years.
The amended bill repeals the lifetime prohibition on misdemeanor marijuana convicts.
Surprisingly, the amended bill inserts a new three year prohibition period for anybody convicted of any misdemeanor. This would include such innocuous conduct as providing property management services without a real estate broker’s license, or the offense of “smoking in public places,” see O.C.G.A. 16-12-2. Smoking tobacco on Marta is another misdemeanor, see O.C.G.A. 16-12-120, as is consuming food or beverages or even possessing an open food or beverage container. All of these people, and more, would be disarmed for three years following release from all restraint or supervision.
Since any sexual intercourse outside of marriage is a misdemeanor in Georgia, see O.C.G.A. 16-6-18, one wonders just how far the General Assembly is willing to go in disarming the state’s population.
Oddly, retired law enforcement would receive a license that is “distinctive in design by the use of color or style or other means from other licenses issued under this Code section.”
The amended bill will lose Georgia’s NICS exemption, since a NICS check is not required at renewal time. There has been some confusion on this issue in the past. Georgia lost its NICS exemption once before, because it did not expressly state in the law that a license would be denied to anybody ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law. Georgia law has since been amended to add that provision, and Georgia regained its NICS exemption.
SB 291 removes fingerprinting and the NICS check at renewal time. While fingerprinting is not required for a NICS exemption, a NICS check at least once every five years is. To the extent that a NICS exemption is desireable, the NICS check in 16-11-129(d)(2) will need to continue to apply to renewal applicants as well as first timers.
The final sustantive section of the bill provides measures to combat the seizure of weapons from peaceful citizens during a Katrina-style emergency, when the right to bear arms is needed the most. This type of provision has crept up in bills several times over the last few years, but has failed to pass, while states like California have passed similar provisions into law, as has the federal government. It appears that an additional section specifically addressing the Governor’s power to suspend the sale or transportation of weapons has been removed from the amended bill.
The NRA made its first public endorsement of a bill for 2010 yesterday at the hearing for SB 291, and the bill passed the Public Safety Committee with only one dissenting vote.
You may read the amended version of SB 291 for yourself here.
Summary of SB 291:
Author: Sen. David Shafer (R-28, parts of Gwinnett and Fulton Counties)
Cosponsors (partial list):
- (1) Shafer,David 48th
- (2) Douglas,John 17th
- (3) Sims,Freddie 12th
- (4) Rogers,Chip 21st
- (5) Powell,J. 23rd
- (6) Tolleson,Ross 20th
Effect: SB 291 would prevent Georgians from being arrested on a felony when picking up family members at the airport and would make renewing the license much easier. SB 291 would penalize government officials who seize firearms during declared emergency.
Status: SB 291 passed the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday and is now assigned to Rules.
Recommendation: Contact your Senator and the Lt. Governor’s office about any provisions that may cause you concern.
GA Bills: SB 291, a bill to revise the law about carrying concealed weapons
See Part One GA Bills: HB 873 Freedom of Choice and Security Act
See Part Two GA Bills: HB 819, A bill exempting you from public gatherings
See Part Three GA Bills: HB 615, A bill repealing the public gathering law
- See Part Four GA Bills: SB 12 bans uncoded ammunition in Georgia
- See Part Five GA Bills: SB 308 The Common Sense Lawful Carry Act
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