As you’ve no doubt seen in the news, many parts of the country are experiencing a push to ban firearms from government buildings. A significant portion of this new “outrage” is media-driven opportunism by gun control advocates. To help sort the legal facts from fiction, let’s take a look at how the law plays a role in securing your rights as a law-abiding gun owner.
The Second Amendment ensures the rights of all Americans to keep and bear arms. Still, lawmakers have differing opinions on how that applies to the Georgia Capitol building and other government buildings.
Here’s what you need to know about the past, the present, and the future of legally carrying a firearm on the grounds of our state buildings and other government properties.
Did the Events of January 6 Spark Change in Georgia?
Georgia’s General Assembly convened the 2021 legislative session five days after the Capitol Hill events. Now over halfway through the 40-day session, no new bills have been introduced in either chamber to change security at the Georgia Capitol.
The Georgia Capitol building weapons policy is found in Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-34.1, which declares it unlawful “for any person, other than those persons who are exempt. . . to enter, occupy, or remain within the state capitol building or any building housing committee offices, committee rooms, or offices of members, officials, or employees of the General Assembly or either house thereof while in the possession of any firearm.” Specific law enforcement and government officials are exempt (Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-130). Anyone found in possession inside the Capitol building is guilty of a misdemeanor, with punishment including up to 12 months in custody. Successive violations carry more significant penalties.
This law applies to the Capitol building and Assembly offices; if you hold a Weapons Carry License (“WCL”), it is permissible to carry in some government buildings. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-127 authorizes a WCL holder to carry in a government building “when the government building is open for business and where ingress into such building is not restricted or screened by security personnel.” A WCL holder who enters a government building carrying a weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor if that building has security personnel, and at least one member of that security team is a certified peace officer. A right of retreat exists, however, for WCL holders: a WCL holder who immediately exits the government building after being given notice he or she has failed to clear security because of a firearm “shall not be guilty.” Any person who does not have a Weapons Carry License and attempts to enter a government building carrying a weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Should You Be on Alert?
Georgia’s laws may not change because of the recent events in Washington, D.C. Still, security has tightened around government buildings, and anyone near a government campus may be subject to greater scrutiny.
Observe your surroundings when carrying in public and expect increased interest from law enforcement. Keep an eye on the news for legislative updates, and contact your representatives to voice your opinion (find your representatives through the Georgia Secretary of State’s website).
For any questions about carrying in and around government buildings, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.