New gun law takes effect
Today House Bill 60, aka the “guns everywhere” law, took effect in Georgia.
The head of a gun rights advocacy group Georgia Carry was nonchalant about the new law, which expands the rights to carry into places including bars and churches, unless property owners prohibit it. The head of a gun control advocacy group Georgians for Gun Safety said there will be more gun violence as a result of HB 60.
Both sides agree about one point: the fight over the new law isn’t over.
“I’m sure there will be bills to try to repeal some of this law or all of this law,” Georgia Carry Executive Director Jerry Henry said. “We’ll have to play defense more than we have in the past.”
Alice Johnson, executive director of Georgians for Gun Safety, said confusion about the bill will lead to litigation. She said there are differing interpretations about the law as it applies to carrying guns at airports. There’s disagreement about whether police will legally be able to determine whether someone stopped for carrying a gun at an airport has a concealed weapons permit.
“We are determined to document as much as we can the impact of HB 60, both in terms of its financial costs to municipalities and county government,” Johnson said. “That was a huge issue that led those organizations to bitterly fight the bill. We’re certainly going to be looking at the consequences in terms of implications for public safety. We don’t know exactly what to expect, but more guns in more places always lead to more injuries and deaths from those guns across the board. That is just absolutely true.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that all recreation centers with summer programs will be staffed by security guards “to screen entrants and prevent firearms from entering the buildings.”
“With the exception of certain public safety officials and employees, there is no place for firearms in a city facility,” Reed said in a press release. “Every City of Atlanta government facility that screens the entrance into the facility with security personnel will continue to prohibit firearms. Furthermore, City of Atlanta employees have all been notified that the new state law does not authorize them to carry firearms while on duty or store weapons in personal vehicles that are parked in secured employee parking lots.”
The city of Decatur also is looking into the potential costs to secure city buildings. At a recent City Commission meeting, Assistant City Manager Andrea Arnold said a “back of the napkin” estimate shows the bill could cost Decatur taxpayers $500,000.
On July 1, City Manager Peggy Merriss said the city hasn’t decided how it intends to respond to the new law. She also wasn’t sure what exactly it might cost the city.
“We are still weighing our options and determining what would be the most reasonable and effective way to move forward,” Merriss said. “Our basic work to date indicates that should we decide to restrict weapons with screening the majority of the cost will be for staffing. I do not have a good number for that at this point.”
Henry said fears about the law are exaggerated.
“The same thing happens every time we pass a gun bill,” Henry said. “Everybody gets upset about it because of all the things that are going to happen, but they never do happen. Everybody gets all hot to trot and in about a month or so everything will slow down and everything will be fine. It’s just another day as far as I’m concerned.”