The Georgia Supreme Court today delivered a blow to gun rights activists in a ruling that said a law that prohibits guns at school property trumps one passed at the same time that allowed firearms inside school safety zones.
The ruling came in a challenge the gun rights group GeorgiaCarry.org brought after the governor signed two conflicting bills passed by the 2014 Legislature. On April 22, 2014, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 826, which allowed licensed gun owners to bring their weapons onto school property. The next day Deal signed House Bill 60, which 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 was specifically prohibited.
The Code Revision Commission, which cleans up and revises laws passed by the Legislature, ruled that HB 60, the restriction on guns on school property trumped the other bill because it was signed second.
GeorgiaCarry.org and two fathers filed lawsuits in the summer of 2014 in two counties, claiming they wanted to arm themselves when their visited their children’s schools but needed guidance on which law is recognized. Phillip Evans said in his case he wanted to bring a gun when he attended functions at Centerville Elementary School in Snellville. James Johnson filed a similar suit, saying he wanted to bring his 9 mm Smith and Wesson when he went to his children’s activities at New Prospect Elementary School in Alpharetta. “As a parent it’s my responsibility to look out for my family,” Johnson said at the time.
The justices said in the unanimous decision that if the two laws “cannot ‘reasonably stand together,’ the later enacted bill controls. … 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.”