Perdue signed SB 308, but vetoed SB 291. We had a bit of a disagreement with the Georgia folks on this one a while back, where I may have gotten one aspect of how the two laws would be treated wrong. As I mentioned in the latter post, I suspect NRA’s Lobbyist did not want to give Perdue a way to avoid dealing with the airport issue directly. His veto statement is thus:
SB 291 changes a variety of provisions withinÂ GeorgiaÂ law regarding firearms. Among others, this bill would allow firearms to be carried into unsecure areas of airports. I have already signed SB 308, which clarifiesÂ Georgiaâ€™s public gathering statute and preserves the rights of private property owners. I believe this language is sufficient and adequately clarifies the law forÂ GeorgiaÂ firearms license holders. For this reason, and despite unwarranted intrusion into this state matter by ill-advised federal officials, I VETO SB 291.
I think the case for banning guns in Atlanta Airport is weakened by SB308, but I’m going to bet that the airport authorities will continue their defiance, using the still existing prohibition on guns in “government buildings,” which are defined as any place housing a “government entity,” meaning “an office, agency, authority, department, commission, board, body, division, instrumentality, or institution of the state or any county, municipal corporation, consolidated government, or local board of education within this state.” Â I’d be hard pressed to believe there aren’t City of Atlanta agencies who are based at the airport.
Maybe Perdue thinks he already addressed the airport issue, but then why veto SB291 on that grounds? I think he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. I’ll be very surprised if the end result of all this is the airport carry issue being fixed in Georgia. Aside from the fact the airport still has a plausible claim on state law, one of the things that Atlanta did last time they were sued is bring federal preemption issues into the mix, citing the Airport Security Directive from the TSA, which applies to all airport areas, sterile and non sterile. They claimed because this empowered airport officials with security for the whole airport, the airport officials could decide to ban guns if they felt that was necessary for security. Because this is a federal empowerment of local officials, the SupremacyÂ Clause applies, and the airport’s operators’ judgement have precedent over state law. This would have been novel legal theory if the District Court hadn’tÂ boughtÂ it, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it. If that’s upheld by the Supreme Court, local officials would be permitted to ban guns at any airport. Without crystal clear language in state law, this is a dangerous game we’re playing with this issue, with national implications. I do hope going forward we win on this issue, but I would suggest waiting for a fix in state law would be wise before further litigation proceeds.