HB 89 Passed!

HB 89 was passed by the Georgia House and Senate last night by a landslide! Now it just needs the Governor’s signature. Some of the great improvements to the CCW law in the bill include

  • The ability for CCW license holder to legally carry:
    • On MARTA and other mass transit
    • In State Parks, including the buildings
    • Other Historic and Recreational Areas
    • Restaurants whose sales are at least 50% food. Some have asked how you can determine if the restaurant you’re visiting qualifies: According to O.C.G.A. ยง 3-3-7, the restaurant cannot serve alcohol on Sunday unless they sell at least 50% food, so if they do you’re safe. There may be other reasons why the don’t though, so in that case you’d have to ask specifically or find out some other way.
    • Publicly owned or operated buildings, except “Government Office Buildings”
  • Removal of the vague “public gathering” provision that Atlanta tried to argue meant you couldn’t carry in city parks because people were gathered.
  • Replaced the old 60 day maximum time the court could take to issue a permit, which was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court, with a two day limit to send off the background check and a 10 day limit from the time the background check is completed. No report is required on the background check if nothing is found against the applicant, so after 30 days the court will have to assume the applicant cleared. Also, if the takes longer than specified, the applicant can sue to get their license and is entitled to recover costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
  • Made “straw purchases” illegal under state law. It is already illegal under federal law, however this provision will allow state officials to prosecute these people. It also includes “any other person who aids or abets such persons” in the felony category. So, if New York Mayor Bloomberg sends private investigators down to Georgia to try and purchase guns illegally again, he can be personally prosecuted.
  • Prevents employers from searching employees’ vehicles or prohibiting employees from keeping guns locked in their vehicles, so long as the employee has a Georgia firearms license, the lot is open to the public (e.g. not behind a guard station, etc.), and “provided that any employer policy allowing vehicle searches upon entry shall be applicable to all vehicles entering the property and applied on a uniform and frequent basis.” There are also other specific exemptions for jails, public utilities, certain military contractors, and similar specific cases enumerated in the law. This provision of the law was significantly weakened by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and they still opposed the final bill. Also, Gov. Perdue threatened a veto before the compromise. Probably the worst thing about this provision is that only the state AG can bring action for illegal searches, which apparently means you can’t sue your employer for illegally searching your car. HB 89 would be a huge victory even with this provision completely gone, but it gives us something to work on next year. Until then, if you do business with any of their members, tell them you what you think about their membership in an organization that would oppose HB 89, or better yet, do business with a competitor who isn’t a member and let both companies know that, too.

This is terrific news for all carry permit holders, and really, all Georgians. GeorgiaCarry.org deserves a great thanks for their efforts to get this bill passed. Click the link and join and/or contribute today. GCO members Sen. John Douglas and Rep. Timothy Bearden were instrumental in getting this legislation passed. The NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) also deserves our thanks. Finally, all of us who wrote or called our legislators on behalf of this bill were very important to making it happen, I’m told.

I understand that Governor Perdue is on board with this bill, but it would be a shame if he only heard from the gun-haters.

UPDATE: I expanded the above list of what the law includes. The official site for HB 89 is a bit confusing because the text marked “Current Version” is actually just the most recent changes. To see what’s in the law, you have to take the original version and look at each of the changes adding or removing bits as described in each amendment. You can view the Georgia Senate proceedings here and here leading up to and through the final vote, and they clearly reference parts not in the “Current Version” on the legis.state.ga.us site that are in the final bill.

UPDATE: They finally posted the text to HB 89, as passed. Apparently there were some additional changes from the last version. See this post for details.

UPDATE: It’s now signed into law and takes effect July 1, 2008.

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