New boating education rules in effect

by Sarah Fay Campbell

New state regulations took effect Tuesday that could impact your day on the lake … and where guns can be carried in Georgia.

The regulations are part of the Kile Glover Boat Education Law, which was passed in 2013. Most parts of the law took effect last year, but one took effect on Tuesday.

Under the new regulation, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, must take an approved boating education course before they can legally operate any motorized vessel on Georgia waters.

This includes personal watercraft such as jet-skis and WaveRunners.

The law, which was passed in response to the death of Glover, 11, in an accident involving a jet-ski on Lake Lanier in 2012, also increased the age for mandatory life jackets.

Children under age 13 must wear an approved personal floatation device while on a moving vessel. Previously, the life jacket requirement was for children under 10. Everyone must wear a life jacket on a personal watercraft.

Another major law that took effect July 1 is the Safe Carry Protection Act, also known as the “Guns Everywhere Law.”

The law allows Georgia Weapons License holders to carry guns in more places, including government buildings that don’t have security checkpoints. Churches can choose to allow guns to be carried, and guns can also be carried in bars, unless the bar owner specifies that weapons are not allowed.

Another provision of the law prevents police officers from detaining someone carrying a gun just to see if the person has a license to carry.

State law requires a Georgia Weapons License to carry a handgun in public. License holders can carry the weapon openly or concealed.

Newnan Police Chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows said he thinks most Georgians are aware of the new law.

In regards to the prohibition on asking someone to show their license, “we have no way of knowing if they are legal or not,” Meadows said. “I think our hands have been tied some, but we will work through it. We respect the right to bear arms,” he said. “We’ll do our job the best we can.”

“If they are toting their gun in an exposed manner, we can only assume they are legal,” he said.

Though open and concealed carry are legal, Meadows said he would rather people conceal their firearms. “It would create less concern for other people, and all that may not be familiar” with state laws.

Shortly after the law went into effect, Target stores “respectfully requested” customers not bring guns into their stores, saying that the announcement wasn't related to Georgia’s law, which didn’t affect carry in commercial establishments. That has been legal for years, though property owners have always had the right to forbid guns on their property.

Instead, it was related to open-carry rifle demonstrations by Open Carry Texas, and a subsequent campaign by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.



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