Sheriff Kevin Sproul on Important Facets of the New Georgia Gun Law
Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Each year, the Georgia Legislature passes new laws and amends old ones. Most of the changes go relatively unnoticed, but it seems that any time there are changes to the gun laws everybody notices. The new changes to the gun laws have been widely publicized and hotly debated. The truth is that the proposed changes contained in House Bill (HB) 60 have changed from the time the bill was first proposed until it was passed last month. Do any of the changes affect you? Do you know for sure just what changes made it through to the final version? Here is a list of the substantive changes:
- Individuals who live in public housing will now have the same rights as others to keep a firearm in their home (unless otherwise prohibited by law from doing so).
- The legal carry of firearms is now authorized in non-secured government buildings.
- Churches can authorize the legal carry of firearms inside the church building if they choose.
- Bars are no longer a restricted area for firearms carry.
- Private property owners (including bar owners) have greater authority to now “exclude or eject a person” who is carrying a firearm.
- The age for obtaining a firearm license was reduced from 21 to 18 for those who are active duty military and have completed basic training and for those who have been honorably discharged.
- If a firearm license has been revoked, the person may reapply after 3 years.
- Law enforcement cannot detain anyone for the sole purpose of checking for a firearm license.
- Persons who have been adjudicated as mentally incompetent to stand trial or have been found not guilty by reason of insanity are now excluded from obtaining a firearm license.
- Fingerprints are still required for initial license applications, but no longer required for renewals.
- The GBI can approve private vendors for fingerprint submittals, no longer requiring that they be submitted by a law enforcement agency.
- If a person feels that they have been wrongfully denied a firearm license, they may sue.
- Probate Court cannot provide any information regarding firearm license holders other than to verify the validity of the license for public safety or in response to a court order.
- School Boards may approve for certain school employees to carry firearms on school property. Such employees must be licensed to carry firearms and have undergone specialized training and background checks. Employees cannot be required to carry a firearm.
- Legal carry of a firearm is allowed in the non-secure portion of a commercial airport, prior to the security checkpoints.
- Private property owners can now give permission for hunters on their land to use silencers, provided the hunter has the proper legal authority to have a silencer and the hunter does not use subsonic ammunition.
- During a government declared state of emergency, the government cannot prohibit the possession of a firearm by any licensed person, cannot require the registration of firearms, and cannot seize firearms from any citizen who is the legal owner of such firearm.
- The government is prohibited from maintaining a multi-jurisdictional database of firearm license holders.
The remaining changes are generally administrative in nature. To read the bill in its entirety, you can go to the Georgia General Assembly website at www.legis.ga.gov. If you have any questions about the new gun laws, or any Georgia law, please feel free to contact my office at 229-430-6508.