This afternoon, two bills, HB 35, regarding administrators possessing firearms in schools, and HB 60, which adds retired judges to the list of people exempt from Georgia's firearms carry laws, were heard in the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. The committee easily passed HB 60, in spite of opposition voiced by GeorgiaCarry.Org to adding "more 'special people' to the exemption list" with civil rights denied to the populace at large. The arguments from committee members in general were that retired judges may have developed enemies over the years and needed the exemption. A woman with a violent stalker, however, is denied the same exemption that the committee passed today, in spite of also being in far more danger than a retired judge.
HB 35 is an attempt to address the fact that at many Georgia schools children are left defenseless, as there is no armed adult at the school. A previous column here addressed the fact that Georgia Law Already Provides a Method for School Employees to Carry Firearms, but HB 35 is an attempt to add another provision to state law that would permit the arming of a school administrator only if the board of education approves it and then only if it has the administrator undergo training, which could consist of a burdensome and time consuming ten weeks in the police academy or some other unspecified course of training.
GeorgiaCarry.Org's Vice President John Monroe spoke at the hearing, opposing HB 35 on the basis that it is redundant with current Georgia law and confusing. GeorgiaCarry.Org also objected to the burdensome training requirement contained in HB 35. Mr. Monroe pointed out to the committee that Georgia law already provides a method for arming school employees, or any other person for that matter, that it did not require training, and that it would not cost the schools a dime from the education budget. Mr. Monroe pointed out that if HB 35 passes, a school board could decide that they did not want armed administrators, but a school principal could still authorize employees and parents to be armed using current law that would not be repealed by HB 35. He also pointed out that there are many people in Georgia exempt from the school law in positions that do not require training, such as the retired judges under consideration in the bill that had just previously passed the committee, HB 60. In short, GeorgiaCarry.Org's position on HB 35 was that it was redundant and confusing, being more restrictive on arming school employees than what Georgia law already allows.
This statement brought questions from the committee on training, both for school administrators and with respect to GeorgiaCarry.Org's resistance to training proposals as a requirement of obtaining a Georgia license to carry a weapon. Mr. Monroe remained firm in his stand against government mandated training. "We at GeorgiaCarry.Org are very much in favor of training. In fact, we are in the process of developing our own training certification program because we believe training is beneficial," said Mr. Monroe, but he quickly pointed out that "what we are not in favor of is government mandated training as a requirement to exercise a constitutional right." He added that there is no training required to exercise other constitutional rights, and GeorgiaCarry.Org believes the right to bear arms to be equal to other rights.
In the end, the committee assigned HB 35 to a subcommittee to study the bill, and, in the words of Chairman Alan Powell, to "get it right."
HB 35 assigned to subcommittee. HB 60 passed committee.