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GA Bills: SB 308 Update


Oleg Volk, A Human Right

The legislative session is running down to the wire now.  Sine die, the day the legislature breaks and all legislation is finished for this session, is next week, on Thursday, April 29.  SB 308, in order to become law, must pass out of the Judiciary Non Civil Committee, where it currently resides, be put onto the floor for a vote, and then go to a conference committee where any differences between House and Senate versions can be reconciled.  Following the conference committee, SB 308 must then go back for a vote of approval in both the Senate and the House.  The General Assembly is in session today and tomorrow and will be back in session on April 27.

Last week, SB 308 passed a subcommittee by a slim majority (it must still pass the full committee) of 5 to 4.  There were three Democrats present on the subcommittee:  Benfield, Abrams, and Thompson.  They all voted no.  One Republican, Cooper, joined them in voting against SB 308.  There were five other Republicans present, and they all voted yes.  Golick, the chairman of the full committee, is an ex officio member of the subcommittee.  He showed up just to vote (and he voted yes). 

During the subcommittee hearing, various proposals were attempted as amendments.  Some succeeded, and some did not.  Here are some of the most notable:

Stacy Abrams (D-84, Atlanta) proposed an amendment to make it a criminal offense to carry a firearm at private elementary and secondary schools, undermining the premise of SB 308, that private property owners will be able to make their own decisions about their own property.  The Abrams amendment picked up some Republican votes and passed the subcommittee.  The Republicans who voted in favor of this particular gun ban were Matt Ramsey (R - 72, Peachtree City), Doug Collins (R-27, Gainesville), and Sharon Cooper (R-41, Marietta).  The amendment treats private schools the same as public schools and passed 6 to 4.  Yes votes for this amendment included -  Cooper (R), Collins (R), Ramsey (R), Benfield (D), Abrams (D), and Thompson (D).

Stephanie Benfield (D-85, Atlanta) proposed an amendment to make colleges off limits to carry, and the amendment failed by only one vote.  Basically, the amendment would have left SB 308 banning guns on all campuses, whether elementary, secondary, or adult.  It failed to pass on a 5-5 vote (tie votes on amendments kill the amendment).  Yes votes for this amendment included  - Benfield (D), Abrams (D), Thompson (D), Cooper (R), and Ramsey (R).

One of the more shocking amendment attempts came from Mark Hatfield (R-177, Waycross), the Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Non Civil Committee.  Hatfield proposed an amendment to make himself immune from the gun laws, without including you or any of his constituents.   The mechanism he utilized was a statute that exempts police officers, military personnel, sheriffs, prosecuting attorneys, part time city judges, superior court clerks, and others from most of the gun laws.  Hatfield's amendment would have added politicians to this extensive list, but not the holders of firearms licenses.  Thankfully, this hypocritical amendment failed, with all of the Democrats but only a couple of Republicans voting against it.

Matt Ramsey amended SB 308 to add that following the direction of management for “securing, storing, or temporarily surrendering” a weapon could include “removing,” because he wanted to make sure no government entities would be forced to create a storage system.  In other words, rather than storing a firearm, the government entity can order non-police officers simply to leave.  The problem with this amendment is that it will disarm those who take public transportation and put those who drive a car at risk for theft of their firearms.  While it might be feasible to "remove" the firearm, a Georgian should not be denied storage if it’s available (like at the Fulton County Courthouse).  If a person chooses to take MARTA there, removing the gun is not an option, because the person would have nowhere to put the gun.

The Judiciary Non Civil Committee will probably hear SB 308 in full committee tomorrow or Thursday.  It is not yet on the calendar.  Expect more attempts at hostile amendments to weaken its impact and infringe upon your liberty. 

Recommendation:  Contact the members of the committee and the Speaker of the House to make sure they know your thoughts on SB 308.

 

More from Gun Rights Examiners
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Atlanta Gun Rights Examiner

Ed Stone is the President of GeorgiaCarry.Org, the most active voice for restoring the right to bear arms in Georgia. He is a practicing...

Comments

  • Jeff Jones, Hall Co. Conservative Examiner 1 year ago
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    Ed, thank you for everything you do for the Rights of Georgia's citizens. Without you, and the people behind GCO where would Georgia's gun rights be? I would hate to imagine what those in favor of gun bans and the taking of our Constitutional Rights would accomplish. Speaking on behalf of every conservative gun owner I know, we thank you, Sir!

  • Fred Watkins 1 year ago
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    It seems to me SB 308 will be just as entangling and confusing as what we already have. Unless it has been changed, SB 308 will still have a provision concerning firearms and places of worship, an area I think the state should stay out of, and one of the central points in the original racist public gathering law. And Ed, thank you.

  • James 1 year ago
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    My biggest concern with SB308 is that it does nothing to change the laws for k-12 schools. It also only changes the law for college campuses if the Board of Regents doesn't forbid them.

    My biggest question is: If a place(such as a church for example) forbids firearms, will they be required to post a sign to let people know so that they don't unknowingly commit a crime, would a person be required to ask permission before entering. Is said place off limits until notified otherwise or vice versa?
    Will a person simply be asked to leave if they are carrying and then charged with tresspassing and possession if they won't or will unknowingly walking into a place that forbids firearms result in a misdemeanor or felony charge and result in confiscation of the permit?

    I think I liked HB 615 better.

  • James 1 year ago
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    Oh, and thank you Mr. Stone for all that you do and I can now say that I am a proud member of GCO.

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