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New gun law in effect

House Bill 60, also known as the Safe Carry Protection Act and nicknamed the ‘guns everywhere bill,’ went into effect July 1. Citizens are wondering what the impact will mean for Pike County. Local leaders are cautiously optimistic the law will not cause any security breaches or significant expenses for taxpayers. One provision of the new law allows firearms into any government building that is open for business and does not have security personnel restricting access or screening citizens with metal detectors. ’The board of commissioners has not officially discussed this matter with respect to county offices,’ said county mangager John Hanson. ‘We certainly want to use good judgment in consideration of our citizens’ rights and the safety of our employees.’ While HB60 eliminates some gun restrictions, House Bill 826 ‘“ also signed in March ‘“ bans guns on public school property and college campuses. ’The board of education has no intention of allowing anyone other than sheriff’s personnel assigned to the schools to carry a weapon at this time,’ said superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan. ‘School property will remain a weapon free-zone.’ House Bill 60 allows Georgians to carry guns into bars and churches as long as the property owner has not banned them. Anyone who takes a gun into a church that prohibits weapons will not be arrested but could pay a fine up to $100. The new law would allow soldiers to obtain a carry license at age 18 if they have completed basic training and are actively serving or have been honorably discharged. ’If they’re old enough to hold a gun in defense of our liberties, they’re old enough to hold a gun. They shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 21,’ said Gov. Nathan Deal. The law also allows hunters to use silencers and suppressors when the owner of the property where they’re hunting is aware of it, permits gun owners who have had their licenses revoked to apply for a new license after three years, restricts access for anyone a court has deemed mentally incompetent or insane or anyone involuntarily committed to a mental institution and forbids police officers who see a resident carrying a gun to ask for their permit unless they are committing a crime. ’Right now, each department in the county is evaluating how this law will affect them,’ said sheriff Jimmy Thomas. ‘Under OCGA 16-11-127-1, you can’t carry weapons on school property. Weapons are prohibited in school safety zones, or in buildings or properties leased or owned by the school. That gives us a law to enforce if somebody shows up on school property. Guns will not be allowed in any court unless otherwise authorized by mandated personnel. The state and Pike should be and are reviewing their policies and security of county buildings and public places to determine what is necessary to allow or not allow weapons in public places. When in doubt, retain a copy of the law and review it. Make sure you follow those guidelines within the law. If you have a doubt on a particular question ask a local attorney for clarification.’

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