With the Legislature in a weeklong recess, we have the opportunity to examine details of several bills that have escaped scrutiny.
A Gwinnett County reader pointed us to SB 102, another measure to redefine where concealed weaponry may and may not be carried in Georgia.
The bill passed the Senate last month on a 41-11 vote, and now in House committee. Most significantly, the bill would permit those properly licensed to carry concealed handguns in churches, synagogues and mosques. Such sacred ground is currently off-limits.
But there was one amendment to SB 102, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, that might have escaped everyone’s notice. The change was contained in a list of all those who are permitted to carry concealed without a permit: Police officers, district attorneys, judges, and such.
This language was added: “All persons holding elected state or local offices in this state not otherwise covered in this subsection.”
Win an election, and you would win the right to carry concealed in Georgia. Should that clause remain, it would apply to a small army of this state’s political elite – about 1,100 school board members, 800 county commissioners, and 3,200 mayors and council members.
Toss in members of the General Assembly and statewide elected officials and your troop strength stands at about 5,350.
There’s no guarantee that everyone would be shooting in the same direction, but it would make for some dynamite campaign slogans. “Jane Candidate: Armed and dangerous.” “Health care reform? Meet Joe Candidate’s little friend.”
Now, possibly this amendment – sponsors included the author of the bill – was a sincere reaction to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ., earlier this year.
But did you see this Sunday piece by my AJC colleague James Salzer? It’s about the way public pensions have been shielded from view. In part because, in the past, the state pension systems have awarded some embarrassing amounts to public officials.
You have to wonder if this amendment to SB 102 is yet another example of those who rule over us exempting themselves from the hoops they make the hoi polloi jump through. How can you judge whether your bureaucracy is efficient if you yourself aren’t subject to it?
If nothing else, we may want to add firing-range experience as a qualification for every political office in the state.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider