James Camp, representing GeorgiaCarry.org, a gun rights organization, hand-delivered a letter to the mayor on Jan. 18, challenging a city ordinance that prohibits firearms on the GreenBelt trail and another which says parade participants cannot carry firearms. The organization claims that the city ordinances conflict with a Georgia state pre-emption law, which says that the General Assembly has the sole power to make laws on where weapons can be carried.
A similar letter was presented to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, challenging a county ordinance which gave the commission chairman the right to suspend sales, distribution, dispensing and transportation of “firearms, alcoholic beverages, explosives and combustible products” during a local disaster or emergency. In its Feb. 5 meeting, the BOC voted to eliminate the word “firearms” from the ordinance.
In recommending the elimination of firearms from the ordinance, County Attorney Cynthia Daley said she could think of no incidences where the ordinance would be used.
But Garner has a differing opinion concerning firearms on the city’s planned 16-mile walking and biking trail, of which 3.5 miles have already been constructed.
“I have grave concerns, as do members of the school board, about allowing firearms on the GreenBelt,” Garner said. “The trail goes through the middle of city school property, within 20 feet of the Castle playground and through recreation fields. It goes by thousands of children out playing, and I don’t think it’s a place for guns. I think it’s the dumbest thing we could do — to let people carry guns through school property.
“I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment,” he said. “I own guns and I hunt, but I think someone needs to exercise some common sense. If somebody is afraid to ride a bicycle without guns, I suggest they stay home.”
Garner said he’s not sure if GeorgiaCarry will file a legal challenge.
“But before I put that on the agenda and vote on it, I’m going to let the court tell me what to do,” he said.
Camp said Thursday that GeorgiaCarry is currently conferring with its legal counsel to decide what its next step will be.
“I’m disappointed that the mayor has seen fit to burden taxpayers by upholding these illegal ordinances,” he said. “Case law and statutory law are perfectly clear in this matter, that municipalities cannot pass or enforce any ordinances that regulate the possession or carrying of firearms, regardless of how city officials feel.”
Camp noted that the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in favor of GeorgiaCarry in a 2007 against Coweta County.
“We’ve also won similar cases against the city of Atlanta and Fulton County, as well,” he said. “They had ordinances to prohibit firearms in their city and county parks, which were in conflict with state law.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 7 declined to hear a GeorgiaCarry challenge of a Georgia law which forbids firearms in churches.