2020 Georgia Legislative Session: Gun Laws
Meanwhile, budget cuts proposed for all state agencies—how would that affect sportsmen who just saw a big increase in fees for hunting and fishing licenses?
It is expected to be a quiet legislative session in terms of proposed bills that could affect hunting and fishing in Georgia. However, sportsmen should always be vigilant when state representatives and senators spend a couple of months in Atlanta considering law changes. With the 2020 legislative session just beginning, the focus currently is on gun laws, particularly one bill that could make it more comfortable and safe from arrest for Georgians traveling to other states.
Details on those proposed gun laws will follow, but first sportsmen should be aware that Gov. Brian Kemp has asked all state agencies to cut 4% from their budgets, and that includes DNR and its Wildlife Resources and Law Enforcement divisions. The governor said an additional 6% cut will be expected the following year.
“The budget before you shows that reducing costs doesn’t require drastic cuts to other agency activity,” Gov. Kemp told lawmakers during House and Senate joint budget hearings last week. Gov. Kemp, an avid sportsman and longtime GON member, said his challenge to state agencies to cut 4% in their budgets fiscal year 2020 and 6% in fiscal year 2021 means “recognizing the resources you have, and using them as fiscally as possible.”
GON has seen DNR budget cuts before, and services to sportsmen were all-to-often offered up as proposed cuts—like entire Wildlife Management Areas. We will follow and report on budget-cut proposals as they come out of DNR agencies.
The climate has never been worse for any cuts and that could possibly hurt hunters and anglers. Just two years ago sportsmen got behind DNR’s calls for a massive license-fee increase for hunters and fishermen, with the promise of increased services and support for hunting and fishing in Georgia.
A proposed DNR budget with 4% cuts that bleed sportsmen rather than agency fat—if there even is any—would not be well received. The good news is that current DNR and agency leadership has shown a strong desire to protect our resources and while also protecting sportsmen who fund agency efforts in the state through our license fees. GON will update members about budget developments online at www.gon.com, and through the magazine and our email newsletters.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Georgia gun owners may take for granted that our state, at least for now, has generally reasonable gun laws that align with the Second Amendment of the our country’s Constitution. If you travel and have your gun, in some states you could literally go to jail.
House Bill 787 would expand the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families both within Georgia and in other states. HB 787 now awaits assignment to a committee for further consideration.
HB 787, sponsored by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-23), would grant universal recognition to concealed carry permits held by non-Georgia residents issued by any other state. It would also direct the Georgia Attorney General to enter into formal reciprocity agreements with any state that requires a formal agreement to recognize a Georgia Weapons Carry License.
“This reform recognizes that Georgia residents traveling to other states and visitors to Georgia should not be left defenseless simply by crossing a state line,” said an NRA alert.
Georgia’s Own Gun-Ban Bill
If you follow what’s going on in Virginia, you know that a state legislature combined with a gun-ban governor have the power to pass laws that are a direct threat to the Second Amendment.
Georgia’s top office and our state House and Senate are currently controlled by pro Second Amendment majorities, but the margins are not great. If the scales tip toward the progressive gun-ban crowd—and tons of New York money (Mike Bloomberg) will be spent trying to make that happen in Georgia—bills like the The “Georgia Firearms and Weapons Act,” Senate Bill 281, could have a chance in our state. SB 281 would ban many semi-automatic hunting rifles and shotguns.
Shoal Bass State Sport Fish
House Bill 357 is a carryover from last year that would recognize the shoal bass as the official state riverine sportfish. It’s supported by the Georgia Wildlife Federation.
Georgia already has designations for the official state fish, the largemouth bass. The brook trout is the state’s cold water game fish, and redfish is the saltwater game fish.
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