SB 291 would revise the law in Georgia about carrying concealed weapons.
This is Part 6 in a continuing series about legislation in Georgia affecting your right to bear arms.
SB 291 was introduced in 2009 by Sen. David Shafer (R-48). It has already gathered a large number of cosponsors and is being pushed by the NRA and other groups supporting the right to bear arms. Its most relevant provision includes overhauling the concealed carry statute so that it would no longer be illegal for a person with a Georgia firearms license to carry another concealed weapon, such as a knife or expandable baton. At the same time, it would repeal Georgia’s law requiring a firearms license to carry a handgun openly, making Georgia’s license a true “concealed carry weapons license” rather than merely a firearms license.
Many members of the Georgia public are unaware that Georgia is one of only 13 states that requires a license to carry a handgun openly, in addition to requiring a license to carry concealed. Among those other twelve states are New Jersey, Massachussetts, Maryland, and Hawaii. If SB 291 were to pass, Georgia would join the majority of 27 states that also require no license to carry a handgun openly.
SB 291 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 is 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 apply to the airport property.
A licensing provision in SB 291 would make renewals much easier to accomplish, by mail rather than in person. It would eliminate the fingerprinting at renewal time as well. One problem with the renewal provision as written is that it does not include a NICS check, which is the instant criminal background check that is performed when purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer. This NICS check is the one essential thing that needs to be performed to keep the license as an exemption from NICS when purchasing firearms, but this is easily fixed in committee.
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 final two sections of the bill provide 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.
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 permit the concealed carrying of weapons other than firearms by licensed individuals and would remove the requirement of a license to carry openly, transforming the licensed privilege to carry openly into a right to bear arms openly, like most states. SB 291 would keep 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 remove the government power to seize firearms during declared emergency.
Status: SB 291 is assigned to the Public Safety Committee.
Recommendation: Contact Committee Chair Jack Murphy (R-27) to request a hearing on SB 291, as it did not receive a hearing last year.
Another bill, HB 615, has been scheduled for a hearing in subcomittee next Wednesday. The Ramsey Subcommittee of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee will have a hearing on HB 615 on Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. or upon adjournment, whichever is later, in Room 132 CAP.
HB 615 – Firearms; carrying of concealed weapons; revise laws; provisions
(Committee Substitute – LC 28 4911ERS)
Please show up and support HB 615!
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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