Posted: 10:03 am Thursday, May 29th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway
A Georgia gun group is contending that, whether he intended it or not, a set of bills signed by Gov. Nathan Deal this spring will permit the legal carrying of concealed weaponry on public university campuses.
State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, author of one of the two gun bills, agrees. “I believe that’s where we’re going to be on July 1,” Setzler said this morning.
Lawyers for the governor strongly disagree. Attorney General Sam Olens has been asked for a formal interpretation of the matter by many of the parties involved. Given that the issue of campus carry would quickly be enveloped in a hot gubernatorial contest, you can expect his opinion to be issued rather quickly.
At the center of the argument are two gun bills that go into effect on July 1. One is HB 826, the Setzler bill, which primarily was intended to give school officials an escape from “zero tolerance” policies regarding such things as pocket knives.
But HB 826 also did something else when it came to the carrying of concealed weapons on public school grounds. From a piece by Claire Simms that aired Wednesday on Georgia Public Broadcasting:
Under current law, permit holders are only exempt when dropping off or picking up a student from school. Under the new law, which goes into effect July 1, lawmakers struck the language pertaining to drop-offs and pickups from the bill.
That, gun enthusiasts say, means those licensed to carry concealed can carry in a school zone anytime, anywhere. Including university campuses.
What’s more, a provision in another gun bill, HB 60, they argue, which makes the General Assembly the only arbiter of where and when concealed weaponry can be carried, eliminates any countermove by the Board of Regents. From the GPB piece:
“I don’t think there can be any serious debate that that’s what it says,” said John Monroe, an attorney for the gun rights advocacy group GeorgiaCarry.org. “I mean, that’s exactly what it says is that it doesn’t apply to a license holder when in a school safety zone. I don’t know how much more clear that could be.”
But wait. When they passed HB 60 – this is the second gun measure under discussion, known as the “guns everywhere” bill – lawmakers tackled the same code subsection (16-11-127.1(c)7) dealing with weaponry and school zones.
HB 60 left in the “drop off, pick up” limitations on guns. Which would negate the campus-carry extrapolation.
Which bill rules? We’re told to expect the state – i.e., the Deal administration – to argue that because it was signed last, HB 60 holds sway over HB 826. Ergo, no campus carry.
But the issue isn’t likely to end with an opinion from an attorney general. The scent of a lawsuit is in the air.
One element left out, because of time and space, from accounts of Karen Handel’s endorsement of Jack Kingston in the GOP runoff for U.S. Senate on Wednesday, is the price that Handel extracted for her alliance.
Kingston was placed on a kind of female probation. Said Handel:
“I think women will look at who Jack surrounds himself with, as we go forward. Let’s be candid. Not a single woman at the federal level and in the big races advanced. That is an issue the GOP needs to work on and address in a productive way.
“And I’m confident that Jack and I will be able to work together on that, and that Jack is going to ensure that for his campaign, leading into November and then as U.S. senator, that he will have women in key roles — that he will be a supporter of women down the road who choose to run for office…..”
That final passage, by the way, might also be an answer to the question of whether Handel is finished with electoral politics.
Wyc Orr, an influential attorney and former state lawmaker on the Democratic side of the aisle, has died. He was 67. From AccessNorthGa.com:
He was a Gainesville attorney whose firm Orr & Brown LLP included himself and his daughter, Kristine Orr Brown.
In addition, the politically active Orr was a familiar voice on WDUN in Gainesville, both as a commentator and a participate in election coverage. Orr served two, two-year terms in the Georgia House of Representatives before leaving that body for an unsuccessful campaign for the 9th District Congressional seat in 1992.
Georgia Tea Party Patriots will be holding a three-day assembly in Norcross, beginning July 25th – the weekend after the primary runoffs. We’re presuming House Speaker David Ralston will not be the keynoter.
Gov. Nathan Deal says a drop in boating incidents over the busy Memorial Day weekend is a sign that new rules he signed into law last year have been a success.
The governor and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources released a report that showed 10 fewer boating under the influence arrests this holiday weekend compared to last year.
The law, spurred by several high-profile tragedies, lowered the blood-alcohol content limit for boaters from a .1 to a .08 and increased penalties for those caught boating while intoxicated.
Deal said those changes are a sign “the new law is working and saving lives.”
A new Facebook group popped up this week called “Republicans for Jason Carter” and a post that attacks Deal’s support of an immigration crackdown.
It only has a few dozen likes – one of them is Carter’s wife – and claims the Democrat “holds promise to uphold the Constitution & spend our tax money wisely.”
We’re not sure who came up with it. But we’re pretty sure it’s not Superintendent John Barge.
About the Authors
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012.
Daniel Malloy is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington Correspondent, covering the Georgia Congressional delegation and other D.C. goings-on that affect the state since 2011. He's a zealous fan and proud graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.