I’ve been called out

In the comments to this post at Kim’s place about the two competing bills in Georgia, I said that I felt like HB 915 was introduced “in a fit of pique” to scuttle HB89, the original NRA sponsored legislation. My choice of words was strong, but at the time I felt it was apt based on what I knew of both bills.

Not surprisingly, my comments generated some rather strong ire amongst some folks, not the least of which came from el presidente of Georgia Carry, who wrote an email to Kim and had the following to say :

I am the President of GeorgiaCarry.org, which was instrumental in assisting with the drafting and promotion of HB 915, the Second Amendment Protection Act of 2008, which will remove Georgia from its position as the state with more places off limits to the carry of a firearm than any state in the nation that permits carry. I wish to clear up some misconceptions floating around your site about the bill. NRAHab posted that the NRA is not supporting HB 915 because “in a fit of pique, the authors of HB 915 decided they wanted to scuttle NRA backed legislation.” He said people reading your site should have all of the facts. I do not know where NRAhab is getting his misinformation, or if he is even employed with the NRA, but frankly NRAhab does not know what the hell he is talking about.

HB 915 contains some language in Section 4 that states that nothing in Section 4, which basically removes all government restrictions on where one may carry a firearm, affects the existing rights of private property owners. This is absolutely necessary language to the bill because Section 4 is an authorization for license holders to carry “anywhere in the state,” unless a prohibition is specifically listed in Section 4. This clears up another problem in Georgia of having firearms restrictions scattered all over the Georgia Code, so that you need to hire a lawyer to figure out where you may and may not legally carry a firearm. Without the language protecting existing private property rights, Section 4 would mean license holders would be authorized to carrry a firearm into your home over your objection. Nobody would countenance such a ridiculous result.

Where did Rep. Bearden (the author of the bill) and GeorgiaCarry.org get this language? Why, from the NRA’s legislative push in Colorado in 2003. Please see Senate Bill 24 from the year 2003 in Colorado. GeorgiaCarry.org and Rep. Bearden thought that by stealing exact language from an NRA bill, word for word with only minor modifications to make the Colorado statute fit the circumstances in Georgia, the NRA would be all too happy to jump in and support it. We were shocked to discover the contrary.

In case NRAhab did not get it the first time around, the provision he believes is “designed to scuttle” the NRA is in fact NRA language! NRAhab is getting very bad information from somebody at the NRA, and I would like to know the exact source of his “information.” By exact, I mean a real person’s name.

I have been working closely with the NRA trying to get them to join the other groups that have already given their written endorsement to HB 915, including GCO, GSSA (the NRA affiliate in Georgia), SCCC, and GOA. I still hold out hope that the NRA will endorse HB 915 in the near future. If somebody at the NRA with whom I have been working is actively at the same time passing out misinformation, I would like to know about it.

Rep. Bearden, the author of the bill, saw the Georgia on My Mind page, and asked if somebody would assist him in getting the following message to you.
“Can someone that writes on the site above (I could not log in) let them know that the we (me and GCO) did not try to go against the NRA, but rather we used the NRA’s exact private property language they supported and endorsed in Colorado. Thanks for the help.”

I hope this serves to clear up any misconceptions about HB 915.

By the way, I am an NRA member, as is Rep. Bearden. We hope you will join us for a rally to support HB 915 at the Georgia Capitol Building tomorrow (Thursday) at 10:00 a.m.

Ed Stone
GeorgiaCarry.org, Inc.

I also personally received an email from Matt Knightly, who is the Secretary for Georgia Carry which had much of the same information included in the email above.

Now, I normally don’t respond to personal call outs, but the nature of this email pretty much forces my hand and basically compels a response from me in regards to a few of the salient points mentioned in the above email, as well as the email from Mr. Knightly.

I’ve read over both Matt and Ed’s emails, as well as their statements that HB 915 was in the works long before the NRA backed HB 89; they state that the language in question that we believe was designed to scuttle HB 89 was lifted from NRA backed legislation in Colorado in 2003.  Both Matt and Ed state that their intent was not to kill HB 89, but rather to ensure that private property owners could still ban firearms from their property – the example they used is that without the aforementioned language a CCW holder could carry a firearm in my home against my wishes.

And that’s all well and good on the surface, but it doesn’t change the fact that HB 915 would effectively kill HB 89; whether it was intended to do so or not.  I will ad the caveat that I’m not an attorney and may be misreading the section of HB 915 in question, but it appears on the surface to directly contravene and kill HB 89.

I have two major issues though.  First is that Rep. Bearden was/is the original author of both pieces of legislation, and that despite Georgia Carry’s assertion that  HB 915 was in the works before HB 89, it wasn’t introduced until after HB 89; my second is what I feel is a key misunderstanding by Georgia Carry of the NRA’s role in all this.

With regards to first, I find it troublesome because I can’t but help draw one of two conclusions from it, the first being that HR 915 is a little sloppy but well intended, the 2nd being the conclusion I stated that started this whole mess.  I’m open to opinions on either, because I don’t now think that HB 915 was written with malice intended towards HB 89.  Basically, now I think that they’re unintentionally scuttling the NRA backed bill, not doing it intentionally.

My second concern is one that I’ve raised before while defending the actions of the NRA.  A lot of the time, I get the feeling that pro-gun people view the NRA as some monolith with unlimited resources and time; a monolithic entity which can get involved in the nitty-gritty of every piece of pro or anti-gun state legislation.   Obviously though, that’s not the case, and the NRA, like any other political organization is supporting a national agenda, which the original bill HB 89 would have done.  The NRA has been working on getting similar bills passed all over the country for a while now, and all arguments about rights of property owners aside, they have settled on that course.

So when HB 915 comes trotting along, how exactly is the NRA supposed to support it?  Intentional or not, it does kill HB 89; a bill on which the NRA has already invested a considerable amount of time and resources.

I think that both bills are good bills, and they serve a good purpose.  In fact, they don’t have to work at cross-purposes, because a couple of changes to HB 915 would allow it to be passed and not have an effect on HB 89.


  1. I’m a strict Constitutionalist. Like it or not, if HB 89 explicitly overrides private property rights. When my employer banned carry in my car, I simply parked off of company property and sought a new job. Georgians overwhelmingly support HB 915 over HB 89. I don’t go to jail for failure to follow company policy and be armed, but I get a felony if I walk past a bus stop in Georgia. Which problem, pray tell, do you think I find to be more important and more likely to affect my liberty? Does the NRA work on behalf of Georgia’s firearms owners, or does it work for itself? This smacks of a bruised ego and NIH syndrome on the part of the NRA and Wayne LaPierre.

  2. You mention Rep. Bearden as the author of HB 89. Let me give you a little history on that. HB 89 was originally a car carry bill (Sec. 3 of the SAPA). The parking lot language was added to it in the Senate at the NRAs insistence after their stand alone parking lot bill failed. This “scuttled” Rep. Beardon’s bill in the Senate when before the change, it was expected to pass easily.

  3. So the NRA used a politically viable and effective technique to try and get their legislation passed, and Rep. Bearden didn’t like that.

    Who has sour grapes exactly?

    My point on all this is that it amounts to a monumental cock-up on the part of Georgia Carry, the NRA, and Rep. Bearden. The fact that we’re even having this discussion means that it’s been all screwed up.

  4. Ahab,

    Thanks for posting your thoughts today. If all I can convince you of is that we are not intentionally undermining the NRA, well, at least I am content that this is better than the impression you left originally. I am an NRA member, and I am quite proud of the NRA for, most recently, the San Francisco decision and getting 47 U.S. Senators to petition the Department of the Interior on the National Parks issue.

    All I can say on why the bill was introduced when it was is that it has been in the works since 2005 (when the NRA’s effort in Colorado was still relatively recent), before GCO actually existed as an entity, and the NRA has known about this language since at least 2006.

    There are many practical reasons for why this language was not introduced until the end of 2007, one of which is that the NRA held up its review of this bill during the session last year until it was too late in the session to get it passed, so we chose not to introduce it. You should know that the NRA made no statements to us in the 2007 session that this language was problematic for them. Yes, you read that correctly, we asked the NRA to review it a year ago. Oh, by the way, they said they would SUPPORT it back then; We decided at that point it was too late to make a go of it and shelved it until this year. I am not sure what changed for the NRA in a year, since the parking lots bill was around back then, too.

    Please take the time to compare the NRA law to the Colorado law (S 24 in 2003)the NRA passed, as I do not expect you to take my word for that. Also, please look at the structure of HB 914, Section 4, to see whether what I say is true regarding the effect of removing the language, as there is no need to take mine or anybody else’s word on that, either.

    I am still hopeful the NRA will change its priorities, and I am hearing rumors that their formerly intransigent position on HB 915 may be softening somewhat, which is encouraging – although there is nothing official that has been relayed to me as of this writing. I suspect that they are now seriously taking a look at the language of the bill and what they did in Colorado and deciding maybe we are not on completely opposite sides of the fence after all.

    I just received a message (while I was writing this) from an NRA Life Member that the NRA left him a vioce mail message encouraging him to attend today’s rally and support HB 915.

    Anyway, thanks for updating your blog. I hope to hear more from you in the future.

  5. Ed, thanks for stopping by. I’m a pretty staunch defender of the NRA, and I’d been in some heated debates for a while about the NRA, which was what caused a lot of my initial response to hearing about this.

    I did compare the wording, and it is as you said.

    My biggest point in all of this is that I don’t think that HB 915 and HB 89 have to be mutually exclusive. If you read through my blog, you’ll see that “teamwork” amongst pro-gun groups is a big part of my personal agenda, so I had been wishing that there could have been more of that on this issue.

  6. “So the NRA used a politically viable and effective technique to try and get their legislation passed, and Rep. Bearden didn’t like that.”

    I did not say that anyone has “sour grapes”. I was only pointing out that Rep. Beardon was not the author of the parking lot part of HB 89 as you suggested in your post. I will admit I am not the biggest suporter of the NRA’s agenda as it is too often at odds with the rights and interests of gun owners, but you said yourself that the NRA is a national organization with a national agenda. If they want to help gun owners at the state level, it would make sense for them to find out what local gun owners need. In Georgia, we are more in need of reform to prevent criminal charges for carrying our gun too close to a bus stop than we are of protection from being fired. Jail is worse than unemployment.

  7. The NRA uses effective techniques? Last Monday Wayne Lapierre and Chris Cox flew down to Atlanta (which is extremely rare and becuase they felt the heat from GA NRA members) to let GA senators know if they did not vote favorably for HB 89, the NRA would give them an “F” rating. Does a national organzation such as the NRA have to stoop to such tatics? Perhaps in the NRA’s way of thinking that is their way of effective techniques.

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