The exemption would allow lawmakers with a valid Georgia weapons carry license to bear firearms in government buildings and other properties. The proposed legislation does state that legislators would not be permitted to carry firearms inside the House or Senate chambers.
“It exempts us from government buildings, and that’s the primary concern there. A legislator, by their job description, is going into and out of government buildings on a regular basis year-round,” Hill said.
Hill said the bill arose out of discussions with other lawmakers regarding the exemptions.
“We get a lot of threats at any given time. We’re at a higher level of risk, you might say, than if we had another job,” Hill said.
Rep. Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon), retired commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and Rep. Willie Talton (R-Warner Robins), a retired deputy sheriff, are among the bill’s co-sponsors.
Hill said he’s heard both positive and negative reactions to the bill.
“Unfortunately, there are people out there misrepresenting that bill that we’re trying to get outside the law,” he said. “We’re just trying to be included in the same exemptions other people in government jobs would have. The list is extremely lengthy.”
Those already granted the exemptions include current and retired peace officers, those in military service, current or retired district attorneys, as well as some other employees of district attorneys’ offices, solicitors general, probation officers, trial, municipal and appellate judges, coroners, county medical examiners, clerks of court, current and retired police chiefs and police officers, current and retired sheriffs and deputy sheriffs and others.
“It would put us under the same restrictions they have, with the additional restriction of having a valid Georgia weapons license,” Hill said.
The bill is waiting to be heard by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. HB 394 will likely be folded into a larger weapons bill if it makes it to a vote on the House floor, Hill said.
Hill said another bill he’s introduced recently is making its way through the committee process.
On Feb. 14, he introduced a bill that would prohibit anyone owing state, federal or local taxes to seek elected office in Georgia. The bill has been heard once by the Ethics Committee, Hill said.