Everytime I do an interview about guns and the Second Amendment, some gun-ho person always accuses me of not having a clue what I am talking about. Never said I did! That is why I do interviews.
However, that should not detract from this interview with John Monroe, Founder of Georgia Carry.org in which we discuss HB 89 passed by the 2008 Georgia General Assembly. Effective July 1, 2008, Georgia will allow someone owning a gun to get permit to carry a concealed weapon into a restaurant or on MARTA or some other form of public transportation or into Walmart. Nevertheless, as John points out, you still can’t tote your gun, concealed or not, at a “public gathering.” A few other places, as well.
If you read HB89, you will know for certain that you can get a permit to carry a concealed weapon but you will probably have a lot of questions as to exactly where you can carry it. The law is really not clear, and frankly, it even gets a little confusing in this interview. For example, the definition of a “public gathering” is:
For the purpose of this Code section, ‘public gathering’ shall include, but shall not be limited to, athletic or sporting events, churches or church functions, political rallies or functions, publicly owned or operated buildings, or establishments at which alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises and which derive less than 50 percent of their total annual gross food and beverage sales from the sale of prepared meals or food. Nothing in this Code section shall otherwise prohibit the carrying of a firearm in any other public place by a person licensed or permitted to carry such firearm by this part.
The law makes it very clear that you can carry a concealed weapon, with a permit, in a park, but what happens if you are in the park and come upon a church picnic? Are you now in a public gathering and violating the law? And exactly how the heck do you figure out if the bar or restaurant you want to go into with your gun concealed earns more than 50% of its income from food? You could literally leave your home carrying a concealed weapon legally and travel through alternating zones of legality and illegality just depending on what and who you pass.
John emphasizes that the uncertainty of the law is not good. I agree. Regardless of whether you like the law or not, there is really no reason to make it so confusing and uncertain that an honest law-abiding citizen can violate the letter of the law without knowing it. If you think this is no big deal, you need to understand that carrying a concealed weapon in violation of the law is a midemeanor the first time you are charged. But the second time it is a felony and carrys a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years. (BTW, this is another example of stupid mandatory sentencing required by a legislature that does not have a clue as to the evils of mandatory sentencing.)
This is one side of HB89. There is another side!