Georgia Supreme Court upholds the weaker of 2 campus carry laws

The high court found Monday that the second of two campus carry laws signed by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in 2014 holds true, as it was signed two days later.

Deal gave his approval to HB 862 on April 21 which, among other tenets, allowed guns to be carried on school property. Then on April 23 he inked the expansive HB 60, the so-called “guns everywhere” bill which, while expanding the areas where guns could legally be carried, including bars, churches and certain government buildings, it still restricted guns to the parking lots of schools.

This conflict was identified by the state’s Code Revision Commission, which adopted HB 60’s later language allowing licensed gun owners to carry a firearm within a school safety zone but only “when such person carries or picks up a student within a school safety zone” to be law.

Preferring the more expansive allowance under HB 826, gun rights advocates with sued the commission in February 2015 seeking to have it added to the state’s code. Deal’s office and the commission asked the court to dismiss the claim, which it did, but the Second Amendment group appealed to the Supreme Court, who, in a unanimous decision issued on Monday, agreed with the trial court.

“GeorgiaCarry.Org was not entitled to relief under any state of provable facts alleged in the amended complaint, there was no actual controversy which would have authorized a declaratory judgment, and the trial court did not err by granting [the Commission’s] motion to dismiss,” reads the nine-page opinion written by Chief Justice Hugh Thompson for the majority. “Accordingly, the two statutes cannot stand together and the provisions of HB 826 related to the carrying of firearms in a school safety zone did not survive the subsequent enactment of HB 60.”

GeorgiaCarry Executive Director Jerry Henry told Tuesday the conflict between the two laws was reconcilable and state law has similar conflicts already on the books. For instance Georgia Code Section 16-11-127.1  One part of that law (7) says that anyone with a Georgia Weapons License can have a firearm in their vehicle when on campus while another (8) says the same exemption does not apply to a student. Yet, (7) does allow students to have a firearm in their vehicle if they have a valid GWL.

“Certainly we are disappointed with the court’s decision and believe it to be an incorrect decision. Unfortunately, the court does get it wrong from time to time,” said Henry. “The court sided with the state and once again, missed an opportunity to restore our Second Amendment rights; forcing law-abiding citizens to be disarmed in high crime pretend gun-free zones.”

Earlier this year Deal vetoed a popular House bill opposed by gun control groups to allow concealed carry at public college and universities in Georgia, saying, “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed.”

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