Jones introduces new gun bills

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

One of Henry County’s legislators has introduced two bills in the Georgia General Assembly that would have a significant impact on local gun owners.

State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-10), who lives in northern Henry County and whose district includes that area and much of DeKalb County, introduced a bill in the Senate to tighten restrictions for carrying weapons in public buildings as well as another bill to require a training component as part of the application process for a weapons carry license.

Senate Bill 67 is intended to amend Georgia code section 16-11-127 which addresses the possession of firearms in unauthorized locations. As it reads now, one subsection of the code prohibits firearm possession in government buildings, courthouses, jails or prisons, and places of worship. However, a separate subsection allows for exception with regard to government buildings. The proposed bill eliminates those exceptions.

The bill also adjusts the penalty for violating the code in a place of worship, with a fine of no more than $100 for a license holder and a misdemeanor charge for a non-license holder.

Senate Bill 68 would amend code section 16-11-129 which governs the licensing process. It would add a subsection detailing the new training requirement, which would affect any license issued after Dec. 31 of this year.

If passed, anyone applying for a carry license would have to pass a handgun education course approved by the state’s Department of Public Safety. The course would be at least eight hours and cover information on state gun laws and the use of deadly force under the law; handgun use and safety information; proper storage practices that reduce the possibility of accidental injury to a child; and actual firing of a handgun at an established range in the presence of an instructor.

These requirements would not apply to anyone who is an instructor in an approved training organization, who has demonstrated proficiency to appropriate state public safety officials, or who is on active duty in the U.S. armed forces.

A statement issued Feb. 9 by the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action charged that these two bills, and a third bill introduced by another Democratic state senator, “would unnecessarily infringe upon your Second Amendment rights.”

SB 67 “would prohibit the carrying of firearms in all public buildings,” according to the statement, and SB 68’s new requirements would “make the process more arduous and unnecessary for law-abiding citizens.”

As of last week the bills had been assigned to the Senate Public Safety Committee but no hearings had been scheduled.