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County governments adjust to new state gun law

POSTED: June 18, 2014 1:00 p.m.

A sign may be all that’s required to ban firearms from a government building when the new gun law goes into effect next month.

Sheriff Jud Smith said the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia has stated that the law allows for signs at government buildings restricting firearms. The law that goes into effect July 1 allows more leeway for people with firearm permits to bring their guns into bars, churches and some government buildings.

In Barrow County several governments will have to make decisions whether they will change any policies or security measures in response to the new law.

Signs banning firearms will be placed outside the Barrow County Admin Annex that houses the sheriff’s office and election office as well as the Building & Grounds building. It’ll be up to county leaders if they want similar signs put at other county buildings, Smith said.

He said he doesn’t want to infringe on Second Amendment Rights but believes the signs are the best approach at his building. Smith said some of the confusion about the law has been cleared up after talking with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia.

The council, which provides services to elected officers and appointed prosecutors, is comprised of six district attorneys and three court solicitors.

"The law allows any person at our buildings to put up a sign that says no weapons allowed on premises except by authorized personnel," he said.

Under the law, if a person with a permit is asked to leave a restricted government building then they have a right to do so without being arrested. However, if they refuse to obey the gun restriction then they can be charged with a misdemeanor, according to the bill.

Some Barrow County city leaders have yet to make any changes because of the new law.

Statham officials have not discussed the topic again after Police Chief Steve Martin suggested looking at purchasing a portable metal detector or creating an ordinance to ban weapons.

There are currently no plans for changes in Winder due to new law, said Police Chief Jim Fullington.

An officer already checks people for weapons going to City Council meetings and since Winder uses the Barrow County Courthouse for court hearings then security measures are already in place.

In Auburn a portable metal detector is now being used for court hearings, however that wasn’t in response to the new law, Police Chief Moulder said.

It would be up to city officials if they decide they want more security measures for other buildings or meetings, he said.

"We had been looking at trying to obtain (a metal detector) for awhile," Moulder said. "A couple years ago we looked at it but didn’t because of budget costs. A (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) grant allowed us to purchase it now."

 

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