Category Archives: 2013 Legislative Session

Let’s get this over with…

I’ll go ahead and say it. We all knew it was coming. Edward Lindsey has been announcing that he’s going to be ‘announcing something’ for about 3 weeks and now he’s officially in. But saying ‘no’ from the get-go.
You see, I used to be in his district. I wrote him an email voicing my concerns about students and campus carry and his office he sent me an ever-so-long and pretty painful, 6 page email about Sandy Hook, what some professors have said about mental health, some studies related to Newtown, “A quick look at the Constitution” (ironic, eh?), and then some ‘suggestions’ on where we should go. After tracking through the nonsense with my weed whacker, I was left with his propositions:
This is a direct copy-paste from his email regarding his stance on the 2nd amendment. Any bolding was done on my part.

  1. How do we strengthen the established public policy prohibiting individuals with dangerous mental disorders and criminal records from possessing firearms?
    1. Standardize and expand the screening of gun purchasers.  We have gaping holes in our screening process to identify individuals who are barred from owning guns either because of mental health problems or past criminal conduct.  An estimated 40% of gun purchases occur through private sales and 80% of criminal acts involving guns occur from a weapon procured in a private transaction.  Therefore, all sellers of firearms – including sellers at gun shows — should be required to screen purchasers.
    2. Gun manufacturers, who profit from the sale of their product, should bear greater responsibility for monitoring and insuring that retailers who sell their product are doing so in compliance with the law.
    3. Toughen laws against anyone who knowingly or negligently allows someone who is not permitted to possess a gun from obtaining one and committing a crime.  This includes going after so called “straw purchasers” and requiring that the lawful owner of a gun report any theft promptly to the police.
    4. Enforce existing gun laws.  Each year, thousands of individuals are found to be attempting to purchase a firearm who are barred under law from being allowed to so; however, only a tiny fraction are ever prosecuted.
    5. Reform our approach to mental health to better assist the sufferer, and protect society by identifying those individuals who should not be allowed to possess a firearm.
  1. How do you promote safe firearm use, possession, and storage?
    1. Require purchasers of semi-automatic rifles demonstrate an understanding on how to safely handle and store such rifles.  This can be done by demonstrating evidence of having completed an approved gun safety course, passing a gun proficiency and safety test, or being in the active or reserve military or law enforcement.
    2. Require that purchasers of ammunition and magazines for semi-automatic rifles to show identification and the above evidence when purchasing these items.  This requirement would ensure over time that already existing owners of these weapons also pass the safety course.
    3. Similarly, laws already granting permits to carry a concealed weapon should also include a requirement that applicants take and pass a gun safety course in which he/she demonstrates an understanding on how and when to safely use the weapon, and where a concealed weapon can legally and safely be carried.  A concealed weapon may be valid protection but before carrying one into a public place someone should demonstrate that they are proficient in handling the weapon – including when not to use it.  We require a showing of safe handling of automobiles before one can drive on public roads, carrying a weapon in public should be no different. There are also locations where a concealed weapon cannot be legally carried and the permit holder needs to be aware of those locations.

Bless your heart. All I see are a bunch of proposed regulations on a God-given right. I guess that ‘quick look at the Constitution’ was quicker than originally thought? And please don’t try the ‘well you have to get a driver’s license to drive a car!’ argument. Blah blah blah. Driving a car is a privilege. Owning and carrying a weapon is a fundamental right.

I’m sorry, sir. The correct response to my initial email should have said: “I support the 2nd amendment unconditionally.”

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Your Liberty Drum’s Not Loud Enough

Dear Georgia House of Representatives Members (who voted ‘yea’),

I thought it would settle. I thought it would stop irritating me. But it hasn’t.

If I have to hear another one of you put yourself on a pedestal because you voted in favor of a bill that was a) dropped on a Thursday night (12 a.m. for the general public to read), b) scheduled for a hearing that following Monday and c) flown through the House by Crossover day the Thursday of the same week, I may just toss my cookies.
2nd amendment issues have been a concern since the before the legislative session began. (Hence the reason a couple other legislators introduced legislation much earlier). Why was there a need to push it all through so fast? Then we’re left with: Republicans who voted in favor of the bill because they didn’t want to be anti-2nd amendment and Democrats who voted against the bill because they didn’t want to be pro-2nd amendment. What happened to HB 28 & 29? Doesn’t anyone have any guts to make a true statement around here?!?!

Let me make this very, very clear. HB 512 is lousy and watered down. You completely ignored a group of citizens that needed immediate assistance and an immediate remedy and you manipulated wording of a lobbyist-backed bill (which is fine, but did you read it?) to make it seem all lovely. Put your liberty drum down. It’s not loud enough. You address bars and churches, but the very group that needed help now was ignored. I thought legislation was supposed to address the needs of citizens? Every student who attends a university in Georgia, every law student, every graduate student, every urban student in Metro Atlanta…you failed them. Each and every one of them. We see how gun-free zones have worked across America and we know how to fix the situation. HB 512 was nothing short of a publicity stunt to make gun owners think the Georgia Assembly supports students. I am not falling for it. As a student and a LICENSED PERMIT HOLDER, I cannot take my gun into university housing, on a university bus (this is crucial for students at Georgia State and Georgia Tech who walk and take school transportation depending on location and time) or into the classroom. Or how about the students at nontraditional campuses?

A ‘Yea’ vote makes it very clear that you place the ‘student’ status before ‘American’ status. Get off your soap box and sit down. You failed.

zip-it

Reflection of the Campus Carry Hearing

So it’s been a couple of days since the hearings and I’ve had some time to ‘reflect’. I was genuinely impressed by how many people turned out for the hearings -in the middle of the day- in support of HB 28 & HB 29. Georgia Gun Owners, Georgia Carry, Students for Concealed Carry, students from various Georgia universities and many private citizens. It’s clear from the people who attended, with the exception of one student who had no argument and the University System of Georgia representative, who is so out-of-touch with what it’s like to be a student and what it means to be an American, there was overwhelming support for both bills.

I’ve also had the opportunity to reflect a bit regarding a conversation I had with a police chief from a private institution after the hearing. (Oh, the irony…me having a conversation with a police officer who would like to see unarmed citizens.)  I told him that I had attended Georgia State University, and he saw my testimony (seen here), as well as other students from the Atlanta area. His response was ‘Well, you don’t HAVE to go to those schools. You can choose to go elsewhere.’. I found this extremely amusing for a couple of reasons: First, this is coming from a liberal gentleman who wants everyone to have access to education but now he’s telling me that students shouldn’t attend Georgia State or Georgia Tech because of the of the “danger”. This is also coming from a public safety officer who is supposed to be protecting students, keeping campus safe. He should know he can’t, and his officers can’t, be everywhere at the same time. I asked him what he would tell his daughter who had to walk across the campus of Georgia State at 8p.m. in the dark after an evening class. He responded that he would ‘never send his daughter there’. Ah.. okay. So 1) you’re on a higher socioeconomic status than many of us (more than 30,000) students who attend GSU and 2) you’re so aware of the violence on campus that you would not send your own daughter there but you still don’t think that students should exercise their second amendment rights on campus.

I’m not following the logic, because there is no logic.
At this point, I extended my hand, thanked him for his service and said ‘have a nice day’. Before I turned my back, he said, “Well, if I went to Tech or State, I guess I would understand why you feel that way”.

But let me go on the record and explain something to you, sir, because you seemed to have missed a giant component of both HB 28 & HB 29. These bills, while they target the second amendment, are more about property rights. They would grant each university, private or public, the ability to regulate campus carry rules. It would be on an individual basis. So, Chief, if you think your campus is so safe so as not to need students to carry, it would be the institution’s right to deny that on campus. It would allow Georgia State support second amendment rights WHILE you folks at unnamed private institution, {cough- Agnes Scott- cough} deny them. The same concept applies to the bill for places of worship. Each individual church, synagogue, etc.  would have the ability to determine whether or not the parishioners could exercise their right in that particular place of worship. It’s a novel concept- actually. It removes the government from the decision. Kind of how Taco Mac won’t let you conceal carry in their bars. It’s an individual organizational choice. I believe you are private university for many reasons, many of which include funding, resources, and meddling from other organizations/government. And surely you understand the concept of ‘property’, as a law enforcement officer.

I’d also like to go on the record and thank Rep. Charles Gregory. As I said in my testimony, I’ve been writing my legislators for some time now regarding students and their right to carry. Rep. Gregory has really stepped up to the plate and gone to bat for all students who walk their campus in the dark or at night or have to go to their car in a bad part of town. But what’s amazing is that he didn’t introduce the bill for any of those reasons. The reason was liberty. The reason was the Constitution.
Thank you for recognizing that I am a citizen first, and a student second.

Keep Tootin’ That TSPLOST Horn…

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I feel like the TSPLOST will never die, even though the taxpayers bludgeoned it last summer. This week, a legislator from North Fulton threw down some legislation which would remove the penalty that local municipalities are facing after rejecting the TSPLOST. Senate bill 73 would remove a penalty, which coincides with the current clause that says ‘if a region failed to pass the referendum, every local government in that region must provide a 30 percent match to receive any Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants’ (often used for road and bridge maintenance). This would obviously be deflected onto taxpayers.

So, at first glance,it appears that Senator John Albers of Roswell does have some sense (It almost causes me physical pain to say that, though he is still untrustworthy and lacking a true value in the legislature.) Albers claimed in a press release that the measure was un-American  and unfortunate. We all know Albers likes to champion himself on efficiency and ‘for the people’, but the more I thought about it, this is really a champion of nothing. Legislators voted in favor of this in 2010 and put it to the voters who said ‘hell no’. You can’t vote in favor of something, then oppose it publicly and then spearhead legislation to repeal it. It doesn’t work like that. Sure, Albers wasn’t in office when this was passed, but some of the co-sponsors were, and I can assure you some of the prospective ‘yea’ voters were as well. So here we are: after having a mistake forced on us, we are supposed to applaud the correction? No.

Like I’ve said many-a-times: I am thankful that our legislature is more conservative than liberal, yes, but please– do something conservative and follow through. Stop wasting time on resolutions when the federal government is working daily to trample state’s rights and individual liberties. Stop generating legislation that requires fixing a year or two later. Stop reading resolutions for out of state sports teams. Don’t respond to my letter regarding guns on campus by copy-pasting some statistics from the internet and imply more restrictions ‘may be necessary’ when you’re a Republican. Do something worth applauding. Serve the people. Be accountable. Like for real- get it together.

The 2nd Amendment: Give it back to students

Below is a copy of my letter to my State Representative (and some others that I respect) regarding 2nd amendment privileges on non-traditional college campuses:
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January 16, 2013

Representative Edward Lindsey
415 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

CC: Representative Chuck Martin, Representative B.J. Pak, Representative Paulette Braddock,
Senator Hunter Hill, Senator Judson Hill, Senator Brandon Beach

Re: Second Amendment privileges on alternative college campuses.

Dear Representative Lindsey,

My name is Jessica ________ and I am one of your constituents. I am currently enrolled in the Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Georgia, though I attend the satellite campus in Gwinnett. If you’re not familiar with this campus, it is a multi-story office complex that serves as an alternative campus for working graduate and doctoral students. The “campus”, which includes classrooms, study rooms, a library and a few administrative offices, encompasses the entire first floor of the building, with corporate offices on floors two and three.

As I know you are aware, firearms are prohibited on any college campus, regardless of a carry permit presence or gun caliber. As a Georgia State alum, I recognize the vulnerability of students on a college campuses and I feel that vulnerability is no less simply because my current campus is in a suburb. A “gun-free” zone, regardless of location, places students at an unfair advantage. I recognized the true disadvantage when I was informed by campus personnel that even “non-traditional” campuses fall under prohibited zones. Students have no barriers, as most walls and doors are made of glass and doors open outwards into the hallways (I’m sure you recall the dilemma with this in the Virginia Tech case). Without the ability to protect themselves, the only line of defense is to duck.

Classes at the Gwinnett campus often begin late-afternoon or early evening and release late and after dark. This is true of other campuses, such as the Georgia State campus in Alpharetta, the Terry Business School in Buckhead and the Georgia Perimeter satellite campuses across metro Atlanta. Further, nearly 100% of these students are graduate level and higher, therefore invalidating any argument regarding firearms in the hands of minors or those not eligible for a carry permit.

I understand that a blanket permit of firearms on campuses across Georgia is a long shot, especially in this political climate. I am, however, asking for proposed legislation which would allow firearms on alternative campuses which are adjacent to business offices. Business persons have no restrictions on their second amendment, however, as a student, I immediately stripped of my right to bear arms simply because of a ‘status’, even though we are all operating in the same building. Not only am I student, I, along with my classmates, am a sitting duck with a label of “potential victim”. I believe Georgia can do better and I believe students deserve better.

I welcome your feedback.

Respectfully,

 

Jessica _________
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