A local, city ban anyway.
The Municipal Court of St. Marys happens to be a room inside City Hall. For all the time I’ve lived in the area, City Hall has been unrestricted access; that’s where I go to pay the water bill, and being armed (I have a Georgia Weapons Carry License) has never been a problem. But in a City Council meeting on June 21, 2021, our glorious leaders suddenly decided that firearms would be banned there.
In Georgia, firearms are generally banned from courthouses. The City Attorney, Steven G. Blackerby informs me that:
The prohibition against the possession of firearms at Municipal Court proceedings and City Council meetings does not arise not from any restriction enacted by City Council; rather, it is a prohibition that is explicitly imposed by state law, namely OCGA § 16-11-173. That statute contains several relevant provisions. First, it generally prohibits (and makes it a crime) for any nonlicense holder to possess a weapon or long gun in a “government building” (which City Hall is). Second, it prohibits any person (with or without a license) from possessing a weapon or long gun in a “courthouse.” Municipal Court is held in City Hall, and the building therefore constitutes a “court house.”
I think they have just a little trouble with definitions. § 16-11-127(a)(1) defines “courthouse” thusly.
“Courthouse” means a building occupied by judicial courts and containing rooms in which judicial proceedings are held.”
They are taking the position that the entire City Hall is a courthouse because the Municipal Court room is in the building. My personal take would that the the entire building would have to be “occupied by judicial courts and containing rooms in which judicial proceedings are held,” like the county courthouse.
3 a: to take or hold possession or control of
enemy troops occupied the ridge
b: to fill or perform the functions of (an office or position)
The Municipal Court does not possess the entire City Hall building. The entire building does not perform the functions of a judicial court. I would — and do — argue that the Municipal Court offices are the courthouse, and they can ban firearms there. Alternatively — and very generously — the entire building could be treated as courthouse only when court is in session; but that’s stretching things.
Never before June 21 has the city claimed the entire building is a “courthouse.” This is brand new.
Also new is Blackerby’s bizzare claim that§ 16-11-127 allows firearms to be banned from “City Council meetings.” § 16-11-127(b) lists facilities where firearms are banned, even if the carrier is licensed. “City Council meetings” are not on the list. Nor do City Council meetings meet the definition of “court” in § 15-1-1.
The judicial power is vested in such tribunals as are created by the Constitution of this state, such other inferior courts as are or may be established by law, and such persons as are or may be specially invested with powers of a judicial nature.
It seems that the City Manager et al are worried about irate, armed citizens in City Council meetings. That makes me wonder just what they’re are planning that causes them to fear being shot by citizens.
Another local has filed an Open Records Request with the city for all documents and ordinances on which they made this decision. I’m looking forward to the response.
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