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HB 60, Public Housing, Silencers, and Private Property Rights

Silencers Prevent Hearing Damage
Silencers Prevent Hearing DamageOleg Volk, A-Human-Right.com

This is part three in a series about the new gun laws taking effect on July 1. Today’s article will focus on the first sections of HB 60, the Safe Carry Protection Act, dubbed the “Guns Everywhere” bill by opponents and the media.

You may review HB 60 for yourself at the Georgia General Assembly web site and may find it helpful to follow along with a copy of HB 60.

Section 1-2. Among the many improvements to Georgia law wrought by HB 60, it will bar public housing authorities from prohibiting or restricting possession of firearms within individual dwellings. This new law makes an exception for restrictions required by federal law or regulation and does not apply to the common areas of such public housing. This new statutory provision also does not apply to private landlords.

Section 1-2A. The General Assembly has finally permitted sound suppressors to be used while hunting, which should help save the hearing of an entire generation of hunters, in addition to helping remove the complaints of neighbors about nuisance noise generated by hunters. Using a sound suppressor to hunt in violation of the law will result in a three year suspension of hunting privileges.

Section 1-3. This is the section of the bill the removes the current exception to Georgia’s “Stand Your Ground” immunity for a weapon that is carried unlawfully. Please see the article, The Truth About HB 60, Convicted Felons, and Stand Your Ground (link provided below) for a more detailed explanation of what this section of the bill does and does not do.

Sections 1-4 and 1-5 and private property. It has long been the public policy of this State to protect the rights of private property owners, and those protections are stated in more than one place in Georgia’s gun laws. Current Georgia law grants an express authority to licensed carriers to carry a weapon in “every location in this State” unless it is listed as prohibited in one of the eight subsections of O.C.G.A. 16-11-127(b). Current law also makes an exception for private property owners to “forbid possession of a weapon.” Sections 1-4 and 1-5 make two changes to the existing language. First, private property owners may now “exclude or eject a person” rather than forbid possession of a weapon, which removes any doubt about whether merely carrying on private property is a criminal offense by itself if the owner “forbids” the carry of weapons. This change makes it clear that the provision intends for private property owners and law enforcement to use Georgia’s longstanding criminal trespass law, which provides the protection of notice, something not always present in Georgia’s gun laws.

Second, the new bill changes the law applicable to those who rent property. Formerly, it applied to all renters, including both those who rent public and private property. Beginning July 1, 2014, only renters of “private” property may exclude or eject a person in possession of a weapon. This means that tenants wishing to forbid weapons will need to lease private property, and not public property. This may present a dilemma for gun show promoters, who invariably require all weapons to be unloaded visibly at all times when carried into the gun show. What this provision means for Georgia's frequent gun shows held on public property remains to be seen, but the predictable result of pushing a confrontation on this issue may be the demise of gun shows on public property in Georgia.

The next article will address HB 60’s changes to carry prohibitions in bars, churches, and government buildings, modifications to the law that are the meat of HB 60 and have been causing a lot of hysterical predictions of dire consequences.

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