Coweta's Stokely says 'Gun Carry Law' changes better be clear

By Tom Baxter Morris News Service ATLANTA – Coweta County Solicitor Robert Stokely had a friendly warning Monday for the committee considering a bill that changes the rules about where Georgians can carry guns: those rules better be crystal clear. Determining whether a location qualifies as a public place under the current law can be like "wrestling with a shower curtain – even when you get your arms around it, it doesn't feel good," the local prosecutor told members of the Senate Special Judiciary Committee in a hearing on Senate Bill 308 by Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, a Republican who represents Coweta County.
If the law is going to be changed so that individual bars, churches or other businesses can decide if they want guns allowed on their property, Stokely said, property owners should be required to "publicly disclose it in some identifiable way," such as an online database. Otherwise, the law could get "really murky and hard to enforce." Stokely was one of several witnesses to speak at the hearing on the bill. Keith Hatcher of the Georgia Association of Realtors expressed concerns – in line with Stokely's – that the bill presented "the real possibility of increased liability on the part of our property owners." Bill Miller of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority said he was hearing concerns from exhibitors who want to be sure they can ban guns from their events. And Tom Daniel, senior vice chancellor of the Georgia University System, said his survey of college and university leaders showed broad opposition. "The bottom line is that they prefer the current law," Daniel said. But Edward Wint, pastor of the Covenant Life Worship Center in Chickamauga, said he had come to the hearing to explain "why a pastor might want something like this." It was an unusually candid discussion of the pressure on churches in a time of economic desperation. With the worsening economy, Wint said, he has seen "more and more people coming to our church and asking us to help them." The unemployed are getting more desperate at the same time church donations are down, he said. He has had to escort some people from the church grounds, he said, and some have become "angry and violent." The church carries on an outreach program for battered women, Wint said, and he worries about someone coming into his church with a grudge and a weapon. "The way things are in our society, we have a lot of targets on our backs as a church, whether it be religious zealots, whether it be extreme Muslim terrorists, whether it be disgruntled spouses, these are issues we have to deal with," Wint said. He said that if the law were passed he would post signs not allowing guns in the congregation, but would assign church members to carry guns as security. This led to a discussion of whether property owners could be selective as to who gets to carry a gun. But Seabaugh said after the hearing it was his intention for property owners to have such a choice over who can, and who can't, carry a gun.


More Local

Alford says flag is precious

To Sgt. Maj. Jerome Alford, the American flag is more than just strips of cloth. “When you’re in a foreign land and you see the ... Read More


Flags placed beside graves of veterans

The graves of local soldiers were again honored with American flags. On Saturday, Coweta Veterans’ Club held its annual ceremony of pl ... Read More


Local Hilton Hotel construction begins

Construction is under way for a new hotel on the corner of McIntosh and Newnan Crossing. Hilton Hotels has currently initiated site preparat ... Read More


McDonald’s movie coming to Coweta for filming

A replica of the hamburger stand Richard and Maurice McDonald opened in San Bernardino, CA, in 1940 will be built in the parking lot of the ... Read More


Public safety can easily cover Greentop homes

Although the Greentop Road development project may add nearly 350 homes to the city of Newnan four miles north of downtown, both the Newnan ... Read More

River Fest returns to Newnan on June 10

Chattahoochee Bend River Fest will be returning to downtown Newnan. The second annual event will be held June 10 from 5 to 9 p.m. This year, ... Read More