“Timing is Everything!” So Says the Georgia Supreme Court

The Georgia Supreme Court has decided a case involving the right to carry a firearm onto school property.

Georgia-carry-logoAt issue were a pair of laws enacted in 2014 that were contradictory.

House Bill 826 allowed licensed gun owners to bring their weapons onto school property. House Bill 60 said the only time guns are allowed on school property is when someone is dropping off or picking up a student; otherwise guns on school property were specifically prohibited.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed HB 826 on April 22, 2014. The next day he signed HB 60.

In Georgia, there is a Code Revision Commission that is responsible for compiling, editing and publishing the laws and resolutions passed by the General Assembly, basically “cleaning up and revising” the Georgia Code of Laws.

Under Georgia Code § 28-9-5 (b), when two bills obviously conflict and cannot be read together, the last one passed controls. Therefore, the Commission ruled that HB 60 was the law of the land since Gov. Deal signed it last, thereby effectively restricting guns on school property.

A Georgia gun-rights advocacy group, (GeorgiaCarry.org), and two fathers sued the Commission to compel state officials to amend Georgia law and make it legal for a licensed gun owner to carry a gun on school property.

A Fulton County judge dismissed the lawsuit and GeorgiaCarry appealed the dismissal to the Georgia Supreme Court.

In a unanimous opinion issued Oct. 31, 2016, the Supreme Court has determined that the school zone language of House Bill 60 effectively repealed the provisions of House Bill 826.

Since the two laws “cannot ‘reasonably stand together,’ the later enacted bill controls,” the court ruled. “We agree with the trial court’s conclusion that their provisions relating to the carrying of weapons within a school safety zone are in irreconcilable conflict.”

“Accordingly,” the opinion states, “the provisions of House Bill 826 § 1-1 related to the carrying of firearms in a school safety zone did not survive the subsequent enactment of House Bill 60.”

Makes you wonder how the Georgia Assembly can pass two obviously conflicting bills during the same legislative session. Doesn’t anybody read these things?

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