Georgia’s Council of Superior Court Judges officially opposes a portion of a bill before the state Senate that would allow licensed gun owners to bring firearms into unguarded courthouses and judicial buildings.
In an interview last week, Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson, who is president of the council, said the council was surprised by the provision after it passed the House of Representatives. Since then, he said today, “Our legislative committee has discussed that, and we are opposed.”
House Bill 512 would ease restrictions on where gun owners with concealed carry permits may bring their firearms. The provision opposed by the superior court judges’ council states that gun owners may carry their guns into government buildings and courthouses “where ingress to such building or courthouse is not restricted or screened by security personnel during the hours the government building or courthouse is open for business.”
The House approved the bill in a 117-56 vote on March 7. The bill is now before the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, who is a lawyer. Stone could not be reached immediately to respond to the judges’ opposition.
DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown also opposes carry provisions in the bill, known as the Safe Carry Protection Act. “Though named such, this bill is everything but safe for the citizens of this state,” Brown said in a written statement today.
Specifically, Brown pointed to provisions that would allow licensed gun owners to carry guns in government buildings, places of worship, bars and certain school safety zones; allow some individuals who had their licenses revoked to regain eligibility; and remove fingerprinting requirements for license renewals.
The bill “was passed under an emotional move more than likely resulting from the urging of licensed gun holders with the desire to protect themselves without thinking of all the possible consequences and circumstances,” Brown said.
“In DeKalb, we have had several occasions in which victims, criminal suspects and even those in opposing civil legal positions have argued and even fought,” he added. “The only guns needed for protection of these individuals were the ones carried by my deputies. If those involved in courthouse conflicts possessed weapons, the outcomes would definitely have been different.”
For previous reporting on HB 512, go to http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202591517466