Should current and former Georgia legislators be allowed to carry weapons into courthouses? Retired judges? Concealed carry permit holders?

Georgia, like most states, have a general prohibition on the carrying of a weapon into a courthouse.  Unlike many states, however Georgia makes it a specific crime. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(b)(2) Provides “A person shall be guilty of carrying a weapon or long gun in an unauthorized location and punished as for a misdemeanor when he or she carries a weapon or long gun while…In a courthouse”. “Courthouse” is defined as “a building occupied by judicial courts and containing rooms in which judicial proceedings are held.”

O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(b)(2) is, however, subject to a list of 16 categories of exemptions (O.C.G.A. § 16-11-130) including state and federal judges (including some retired judges), peace officers, members of the military, defense contractors, prosecutors, coroners, etc.

Three separate bills would, however, expand the list of people who could carry.

HB 60 amends an existing categorical exemption and would allow all retired state and federal judges to carry

State, local, and federal  judges, full-time and permanent part-time judges of municipal and city courts, and such former  judges retired from their respective offices.

It was approved by the full House 2/13/13.

HB 394 adds a 17th categorical exemption to O.C.G.A. § 16-11-130: current and former members of the General Assembly who possess a valid weapons carry license. Interestingly, while the current and former legislators would be allow to carry in the courthouses of the state, they could not carry in their chamber (“provided, however, that no member of the General Assembly shall be authorized to carry a weapon within the chamber of the House of Representatives or the chamber of the Senate.”)

HB 394 is currently pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

SB 188 would expand the areas a weapons carry license holder could carry. The effect would be to limit the prohibition on carrying of firearms to particular courtrooms, unless the court or local government provides a security checkpoint at the courthouse door.

The prohibitions contained in Code Section 16-11-127 shall not apply to license holders as defined in Code Section 16-11-125.1; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall authorize a license holder to carry a weapon or long gun in a jail, prison, courtroom, or beyond the security checkpoint of a courthouse

SB 188 is in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

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