The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that guns can no longer be carried onto school grounds or into “school safety zones” except when a person is picking up or dropping off a student.
The state’s highest court unanimously dismissed a lawsuit first filed by gun rights group GeorgiaCarry.org in the summer of 2014 after Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 60.
Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for Forsyth County Schools, said the county already bans guns on public school campuses.
“We [already] have signs at all doors and on campuses to notify visitors,” she said.
A comprehensive bill “addressing issues of weapons carry and licensing,” HB 60 prohibits “the carrying of a weapon, which was defined to include a firearm, within a school safety zone,” according to the Supreme Court’s opinion issued Monday.
This lawsuit came about because the day before Deal signed HB 60 into law, he signed HB 826, which allowed licensed gun owners to bring their weapons onto school property.
It was found that the two bills directly contradict each other, and the Supreme Court ruled, based on precedent, the last one signed — in this case HB 60 — stands.
The court opinion, delivered by Chief Justice Hugh Thompson, said, “Our task, therefore, [was] to determine whether the relevant provisions of HB 826 and HB 60 can be read in pari materia or whether the enactments are so ‘clearly and indubitably contradictory [that] . . . they can not reasonably stand together.’ If they 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 … Accordingly, the two statutes cannot stand together and the provisions of HB 826 § 1-1 related to the carrying of firearms in a school safety zone did not survive the subsequent enactment of HB 60.”
John Monroe, the attorney for GeorgiaCarry.org, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that given Deal had vetoed legislation earlier this year that would have allowed guns on college campuses, the ruling “wasn’t really unexpected.”
“I think it’s the right decision,” District 5 Board of Education member Nancy Roche said. “If anyone could bring a gun onto campus at any time, it would be hard for me to be confident that our children are safe. I think it would be difficult to ensure [students’] safety if anyone could just walk onto a campus with a gun.”
Anita Tucker, a Democrat who is opposing Roche on the Nov. 8 ballot, mirrored her response.
“They did the right thing,” Tucker said. “We don’t need parents carrying guns on school property.”