ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia gun owners can't bring their weapons onto the grounds of public schools or public college campuses when two new laws take effect on July 1, Attorney General Sam Olens said Thursday.
A day after gun rights group Georgia Carry publicly said one of two new weapons laws allows people with permits to carry weapons in school zones, Olens released a three-page document that rejected the idea.
Gun rights supporters said they expect gun-free zones in and around schools and public college campuses to be challenged in court, despite Olens' guidance.
Olens said license holders can have a weapon when they pick up students or are parked or traveling through a school zone. But they cannot carry guns on school property because Gov. Nathan Deal signed another law first, which maintains a school safety zone.
That law, House Bill 60, dubbed the "guns everywhere" bill by one opposing group, allows people with permits to carry guns in bars and in churches and public buildings with some restrictions.
The other law was intended to end school zero tolerance policies, giving staff more discretion over punishment for students found with weapons besides a gun. Until the change, districts had to expel students found with weapons or dangerous objects at school. But it also removed language about carrying while picking up a child that Georgia Carry said should allow permit holders to carry on school grounds.
Georgia lawmakers rushed to pass the two gun bills as the legislative session ended in March. An effort to decriminalize carrying on college campuses was included in an early version of one bill but ultimately removed.
John Monroe, vice president of Georgia Carry, said in a statement that the organization "will proceed with every effort to have this issue decided by the courts." Ed Stone, an attorney and a member of Georgia Carry's board of directors, said a challenge likely will come from someone prohibited from carrying a gun on school property.
"Obviously this will have to be settled in the courts," Stone said.
Deal said in a statement that he consulted with executive and legislative counsel to determine which bill to sign first because of overlapping provisions.
"I signed HB 60 after HB 826 to ensure the major substantive provisions in HB 60 became law. In doing so, any contradicting language was conflicted out in favor of the last bill signed."