New Gun Laws
Schools take wait-and-see approach
by Celia Shortt
Coweta County School System leaders will not be making a quick decision regarding the arming of teachers and administrators in schools.
The General Assembly passed an expanded gun carry law this last session, and it is awaiting Governor Nathan Deal’s signature to become law.
“House Bill 60 has just been passed by the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature,” said Dean Jackson, public information officer for the Coweta school system. “School system officials will be getting training and legal guidance on this new legislation, and will be examining how it could potentially impact operations in our schools. Any decision would come after thorough analysis and discussion.”
Last week, the Georgia legislature passed HB 60, which allows Georgia Weapons Carry License holders more places they can carry.
It also allows local school systems “the option of determining whether they want to arm their teachers or their administrators,” said Jerry Henry, executive director of gun rights organization Georgia Carry.
Currently, Coweta County has Security Resource Officers stationed at each school. These officers are the only ones permitted to be armed at the schools. These officers are Newnan Police Department officers or officers with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
All are armed. Some SROs have drug dogs with them as well.
Henry also said if the teachers or administrators do carry in the school, the gun must always be “kept on their person,” and the school systems can determine what type of training they would need to carry guns on campus, but “there are some minimal standards.”
HB 60 also allows guns in churches, bars, certain government buildings, and Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Churches will be able to either allow or not allow guns in their buildings, as will bars. Right now, guns are not permitted at either.
If the legislation is signed by Gov. Deal, at the airport, those who forget to leave their firearm at home or in their vehicle and take it through security will no longer be subject to arrest and gun confiscation on the spot. This provision encompasses those going through security with their firearm, but have no criminal intent to use it.
According to Henry, under the current law, if someone is arrested at the airport for taking a gun through security, he or she has to stay overnight in the Clayton County Jail, post bail, pay a fine, and would most likely lose his or her firearm.
If Deal signs HB 60 into law, it will take effect on July 1.