FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County officials have begun reviewing a new state law that will allow guns in government buildings.
During a work session Tuesday, commissioners heard from County Attorney Ken Jarrard about the changes state House Bill 60 will bring when it takes effect July 1.
“It’s got a lot of moving parts to it,” said Jarrard, adding that the new law will expand the exceptions to the general prohibition on weapons.
Weapons, including knives and guns, will be allowed in government buildings during regular hours if the entrances to the building are not being secured by a certified law enforcement officer.
If an officer is present, the licensed gun carrier could still be asked to leave and wouldn’t be charged with a misdemeanor unless he or she refused to do so.
Jarrard said the setup at the county courthouse is the “quintessential example” of properly guarding an entrance under the new law, noting that all entrances to the building would need to have a certified officer to prevent guns from getting inside.
Private access offices or restricted locations will remain that way under the new law, Jarrard said, and the commissioners can still regulate employee policies on carrying guns.
“Every jurisdiction, local government in Georgia should be having this discussion about now to see if there is anything they choose to do or want to do or at least become aware of the law,” Jarrard said. “Candidly, there are civil liabilities with respect to not complying with the law and we need to make sure we comply.”
Talk then turned to the employee policy, specifically whether contractors, commissioners and consultants are considered employees or if they fall under the public category, which would allow them to bring guns into secured areas.
Commissioner Cindy Mills said if the public can bring guns into the building, there’s no reason employees shouldn’t be granted that same right.
Added Commissioner Brian Tam: “We’ve got a lot to think about.”
Commissioner Jim Boff suggested holding a public meeting to discuss how the county should proceed.
But first, County Manager Doug Derrer and Jarrard were directed to gather information on who falls under the official county employee category, as well as a potential cost estimate to secure entrances to various county buildings, either on a daily basis or for special meetings.
A public presentation is set for June 10.