With all of the discussion about arming teachers, administrators, and other employees in schools, one would think that it had never been tried before. States like Oregon, New Hampshire, Utah, and Alabama have no law against carrying a firearm in a school. Neither does California, ironically. Georgia, however, has a very restrictive law banning the possession of firearms in schools, but it has a list of 18 exceptions of persons to whom the law shall not apply. Some of the exceptions are well known. For example, GeorgiaCarry.Org was pushing for campus carry on colleges in 2010, when, as a compromise, the Georgia General Assembly passed a law stating that the school carry ban shall not apply to:
A person who is licensed . . . when such person carries or picks up a student at a school building, school function, or school property or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the school or . . . when he or she has any weapon legally kept within a vehicle when such vehicle is parked at such school property or is in transit through a designated school zone
See O.C.G.A. 16-11-127.1(c)(7).
Other well known exceptions include police officers (127.1(c)(5)) and students attending a training class for firearms (127.1(c)(2)). Less well known is an exception that has existed for many years in the Georgia code that would permit arming any person that the school wished to arm, but this exception is rarely used.
The law shall not apply to:
A person who has been authorized in writing by a duly authorized official of the school to have in such person's possession or use as part of any activity being conducted at a school building, school property, or school function a weapon which would otherwise be prohibited by this Code section. Such authorization shall specify the weapon or weapons which have been authorized and the time period during which the authorization is valid.
16-11-127.1(c)(6). In other words, in spite of the law forbidding weapons possession on campus, a school official may authorize a person to possess a weapon, specifying the weapon and time period of such authorization. So long as a teacher, administrator, other employee, or any other person has the written authorization of a school official to possess a weapon, that person will not be violating the law contained in O.C.G.A. 16-11-127.1.
Several schools are already taking advantage of this "loophole" in Georgia law, although none of them wished to be identified for publication in this article.
In addition to the exceptions in 16-11-127.1, title 20 of the Georgia Code permits schools to hire armed security that are not police officers. O.C.G.A. 20-8-3 provides that POST certification "is permissive and shall not require" POST certification, although they will be required to be certified if the school wants them to exercise "law enforcement powers."
Accordingly, there are two different methods for ensuring that our children's schools are not disarmed victim zones, and since some Georgia schools are already taking advantage of these provisions, these schools are not the "soft targets" that the next mentally ill murderer might expect.