The Georgia Supreme Court ruled yesterday that citizens can’t carry guns onto school property unless the licensed carrier is picking up or dropping off a student. “The unanimous decision from the Georgia Supreme Court was a blow to gun rights advocates,” myajc.com reports. “It made clear that when two laws conflict, it’s the one the governor signs last that stands.” Yup, the Peach Tree State’s legislature both approved and outlawed guns on school campuses.

House Bill 826 allowed licensed gun owners to bring their weapons onto school property. House Bill 60 said the only time guns are allowed on school property is when someone is dropping off or picking up a student; otherwise guns on school property were specifically prohibited.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed HB 826 on April 22, 2014. The next day he signed HB 60, which specifically prohibited guns inside school safety zones except when picking up or dropping off.

The article fails to mention Bush the Elder’s Gun Free School Zones Act (GFSZA), which prohibits anyone from carrying a gun within 1000 feet of a school unless they are licensed by the state to carry a firearm. Anyway, last bill standing! The individuals who brought the suit — described below — will not doubt work to repeal HB 60 with a new version of HB 826.

Phillip Evans said in his case he wanted to bring a gun when he attended functions at Centerville Elementary School in Snellville.

James Johnson filed a similar suit, saying he wanted to bring his 9 mm Smith and Wesson when he went to his children’s activities at New Prospect Elementary School in Alpharetta. “As a parent, it’s my responsibility to look out for my family,” Johnson said at the time.

Johnson and Evans said they were confused as to when a licensed gun owner could bring a gun to their children’s schools. They are concerned they could be charged with misdemeanors if they bring firearms to school events.

Just so you know: violation of the GFSZA is a felony. If convicted, a scofflaw stands to lose his gun rights forever.

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27 Responses to Georgia Supreme Court: No Guns on School Property

  1. “The article fails to mention Bush the Elder’s Gun Free School Zones Act (GFSZA), which prohibits anyone from carrying a gun within 1000 feet of a school unless they are licensed by the state to carry a firearm (or live in a Constitutional Carry state like Vermont). ”

    The “or” in parentheses is incorrect. The text of 18 USC 922(q) (the federal GFSZA) does not contain an exemption for “Constitutional Carry” states. It does contain this exemption:
    “(ii) if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license;”

    In a “Constitutional Carry” state, a license is not necessarily issued (some states, like Arizona, will issue licenses though none is required). Since no license has been issued, “the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision” have not verified “that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license”.

    Unless there’s been a federal court decision holding that, in “Constitutional Carry” states, 18 USC 922(q) does not apply?

    • “It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.”
      I would love to see the judgment that actual found that carrying a firearm actually “affects interstate or foreign commerce” I mean really WTF?

      • The “interstate commerce” language was added because the initial version of the law – which didn’t contain such language – was found to be unconstitutional.
        United States v. Lopez (93-1260), 514 U.S. 549 (1995)
        https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/93-1260.ZO.html

        EDITED TO ADD:
        The easy part is “has moved in … interstate commerce”. Unless the firearm was manufactured in (and, maybe, from components originating completely within) the state where the school is located, the gun “has moved in interstate commerce”.

        • Lets not forget where the iron was mined, where the ore was processed and smelted, where the foundry was that cast/wrought it into ingots/billets, etc.

      • I looked up the cases where the law was actually applied, but I would love to know if there were any “clean” cases. The public housing one involved unlawful possession of a machine gun.

        • OK here it is OMG the feds can pass anything they want to.
          “The school-zone prohibition is based on explicit congressional findings that firearms had increasingly been found in and around schools, that concern about these firearms could deter parents from sending their children to school, that the occurrence of violent crimes in school zones had resulted in a decline in the quality of education (an effect having an adverse impact on commerce), and that states and localities had found it very difficult to handle such gun-related crimes themselves.”
          So they can make it a felony if you drop out of school, just great.

    • A violation in Vt would be a test case for The Court however we don’t necessarily want any cases like this in front of a divided court nor a Hillary packed one.

  2. The governor and legislature tried to have it both ways, so they could present themselves favorably to both constituents. Upin coming to a fork in the road, they took it.

    The GA SC did the only thing they could, really. Neither law has more weight than the other, so they did the only rational thing they could and honored the People’s, through their elected representatives, most recent decision.

    Blame your elected representatives for willfully creating this mess, not the court for cleaning it up as best it could be.

    • The problem lies in the fact that neither law conflicts with the other. Therefore it shouldn’t matter what was signed when.

      • Can you clarify? As noted in the post, one allows general carry on property while the other restricts carry to specific time/place. For those circumstances, they are in agreement, but the others are not.

        As a result, only one law can be effectively enforced. The court picked the one that most recently, as Jonathan points out, reflected the will of the people.

        • Both bills touched the same overall section of code, but not the same words. “Picking up and dropping off a student” was the law before either bill. HB 60 didn’t change it (no strike out, no additions), HB 826 did change it to “in a school safety zone”. Some of the changes were the same, but there were no *changes* to existing law that conflicted with each other. For example one didn’t *add* a restriction that other removed. One removed a restriction, and the other did not. The only real “conflict” may have been in numbering. If anybody at the Gold Dome was a software developer they could have easily recognized a simple merge tool would have solved the problem. The *intent* of the 2 bills were not in conflict.

          Here is HB 826: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/826
          Here is HB 60: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20132014/HB/60
          And here is a discussion about it: http://www.georgiapacking.org/forum/showthread.php?t=260945

          It all relates to exceptions to the law against having weapons in a school zone, prefaced with this ” The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to:”

          HB 826 changed the number of the exception from 7 to 6, struck “when such person carries or picks up a
          student at a school building, school function, or school property”, then added “when he or she is within
          a school safety zone”, along with a little other wording changes.

          HB 60 didn’t change the number, didn’t strike “when such person carries or picks up a student”, did strike “at a school building”, and added “within a school safety zone”, and a few other wording changes.

          With all of the strike outs and additions (which I can’t seem to paste here but you can see from the links above), they would read like this…

          HB 826: (6) A person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10 when he or she is within a school safety zone or on a bus or other transportation furnished by a school or a person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10 when he or she has any firearm legally kept within a vehicle when such vehicle is parked within a school safety zone or is in transit through a designated school safety zone;

          HB 60: (7) A person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10, when such person carries or picks up a student within a school safety zone, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the a school or a person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10 when he or she has any weapon legally kept within a vehicle when such vehicle is parked within a school safety zone or is in transit through a designated school safety zone;

          The logical merge: (Whatever number makes sense) A person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10 when he or she is within a school safety zone or on a bus or other transportation furnished by a school or a person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 43038-10 when he or she has any firearm legally kept within a vehicle when such vehicle is parked within a school safety zone or is in transit through a designated school safety zone.

          Honestly I haven’t done extensive digging into the *rest* of both of the bills to see if there may have been any other true conflicts, but I don’t see any real conflict in this section and I trust the lawyers at Georgia Carry when they say the 2 bills were not truly in conflict.

        • Also it was more about the will of the Governor (and possibly the Board of Regents), because he chose what order to sign them in. In fact, looking at the history on the links I posted, HB 60, the one he signed last, was actually sent to him 1 day before HB 826, which he signed first.

          But HB 60 was big news, while HB 826 was pretty much under the radar. There probably would have been a lot of political fallout if he’d signed them in the opposite order and claimed the same conflict. Not only would we have campus carry – which we would like but many including a lot of powerful people would not – but we would also not have had all of the good things we fought hard for in HB 60. Everybody on BOTH sides would have been pissed at him. This way only those of us really paying attention got shafted.

  3. Drop off zone is a transitional space and suspect the law was passed so CCW’s are not targeted. Here in CA you have a line of demarcation between city property (streets & sidewalks) and county property (school property), then state laws saying no guns with 1000 feet of a school. I live less than 500 feet from two schools, the moment I step out of my door carrying, I’m “technically” violating the law. Drive pass the school, I can be arrested and charged as a felon.

    • Back when I lived in CA, I was 876 feet from the elementary school my kids attended. If I walked from my front door to my truck (parked at the curb) while openly carrying a firearm:
      * I’d be OK with the GFSZA in my front yard, because I was on private property
      * My front yard would be a no-go for state law, because it’s a “public place”
      * As I crossed the sidewalk between my yard and my truck, I’d violate the GFSZA as well as state law
      * If I had the firearm unloaded and in a locked container, I’d be OK the whole time

      • Do recall that CA has its own GFSZ law at PC 626.9, and your front yard is quite likely to be a no-go on both 626.9 and 25400, 25850, and/or 26350.

        • By itself, PC 626.9 wouldn’t apply:
          “(c) Subdivision (b) does not apply to the possession of a firearm under any of the following circumstances:
          (1) Within a place of residence or place of business or on private property, if the place of residence, place of business, or private property is not part of the school grounds and the possession of the firearm is otherwise lawful.”

          My front yard was private property that was not part of the school grounds.

          Of course, there’s that “otherwise lawful” part. That’s why I said above “my front yard would be a no-go for state law, because it’s a ‘public place'” … PC 25850 and 26350. Since my unfenced front yard was a “public place”, carrying there would violate 25850 and/or 26350. Then, under 626.9, it doesn’t meet the “otherwise lawful” exception.

          I didn’t carry in my front yard because I knew it violated the “public place” part. I wasn’t concerned about the CA GFSZ law, only because I didn’t get that far in my “am I legal” analysis – I answered “no” before I got to that point.

  4. So no cops carrying guns on campus, eh? Guess they will now be required to de-kit before approaching a school zone.

    I imagine that para. 312 or so of the actual statue says LEs are exempted, but I bothers me to continue to distinguish LE from “citizens.” Too us/them, brown-shirt-y for me.

  5. Not sure why but for 2 years this website has butchered the federal school ban.

    I give up on correcting it in the comments….

  6. There’s a little more to this story. HB 60 was the large media-dubbed “guns everywhere” bill that gave us a lot of good things. It did not change the language about picking up and dropping off a student – that was already the law. HB 826 changed a few other school based things and changed picking up and dropping off to “in a school safety zone”, effectively slipping campus carry in under the radar. There was no real conflict because the 2 bills did not change the same language. If I recall correctly the only possible conflict could have been a clerical one just requiring things to be renumbered.

    HB 826 was passed and signed, and then the code commission just refused to write it into the O.C.G.A. and the theory is that the Board of Regents was not happy about having campus carry and the Governor signed them in the order he did on purpose to then be able to claim there was a conflict and not have campus carry.

    The GFSZA wouldn’t apply either way because you need a license to carry at all and GA law has the exemptions for pick up / drop off, in your car, or within the 1000 feet but not actually on school property.

    • There is also some doubt about the order in which the bills were signed. We basically only have the Governor’s word that he signed HB826 on the date he says that he did. Besides the fact that the bills did not conflict to begin with, Georgia Code states this about two bills that touch the same section: “§ 28-9-5(b) … and language carried forward unchanged in one amendatory Act shall not be read as conflicting with changed language contained in another Act passed during the same session.”

      The Governor ignored the law, he colluded with the Code Commission to re-write the law, and the courts ignored and mischaracterized the basic arguments presented by Georgia Carry. Also, the General Assembly passed a bill that basically said whatever the Code Commission wrote is now law, even though the law says that the Code Commission couldn’t do what they did in the first place.

  7. People should start pulling their kids out of school where teachers aren’t allowed to carry and visiting parents aren’t either. Obviously, school with no armed teachers or staff on the premises is an open target for barbarians and the kids are not safe. Parents concerned for the safety of their kids trumps any law requiring those kids to go somewhere unsafe.

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