The Special Ones in Georgia (Part Two)

The Special Ones, Part 2.

Last week I did a column on “The Special Ones” wherein I contended that 5% of you Georgians are special because you passed the moral fitness test to get a GWCL. It’s pretty good to be part of the 5%, right? But did you know that there’s an even more select group?

The Georgia Legislature has, over the years, carved out certain special exceptions to Georgia’s gun carry laws (OCGA 16-11-130). The group is exempt from OCGA 16-11-127 to 127.2 laws, basically in that they can carry into courthouses, government buildings with security, schools, nuclear power plants, churches that prohibit gun carry and maybe polling places. When I was the District Attorney, I was part of that special exemption and didn’t need a GWCL. Now that I’m not a DA, I went and got a GWCL so I could be like the rest of the 5%. But this year, the Georgia Legislature went and added me back into the Special Group Part 2 by declaring that anyone who has served as a judge for at least two years is now covered by the special exceptions. Before I was the DA, I was the chief magistrate judge of Houston County for 4.5 years. I am thus no longer subject to Georgia’s gun carry prohibitions. Cool to be me, right?

My friend, Mike Poss, has a problem with yours truly having a special exemption. In fact, he and others like him have a problem with anyone having special exemptions. He’s got a point. By virtue of holding an office, some elected and some not, an individual gets special status that lets them carry into a school? Nuclear power plant? Why? With no proven qualification or proficiency in weapons, they are exempt because the Legislature said so. Interestingly, the Legislature did not exempt themselves, which is a rare turn of events.

So who is exempt? Law enforcement officers are exempt. Arguably they have more firearm training that the regular folks, but I’m not sure they have more training than most of the 5% who are GWCL holders. And I know this, LEOs are far more likely to accidentally shoot someone than a GWCL holder. That’s a column for another day, but it’s true. But at least they do have mandate training and firearms qualification yearly, so that is something special at least.

Prosecutors are exempt too. I know there is no “good moral character” requirement, I’ve met some prosecutors who would fail any reasonable such test. There is no proficiency requirement to be a gun toting prosecutor either.

Coroners and medical examiners are exempt? Our local coroner, Danny Galpin, was an police officer before becoming coroner. He keeps his “reserve deputy” status to this day. He’s an avid supporter of the shooting sports. But he could tell you, I bet, that some coroners have no business being exempt from Georgia’s gun laws.

This year, thanks to the Legislature, I am now exempt from Georgia’s gun laws, putting me into probably the .0025% percentile of the general population. While I’ll take it, I, like Mike Poss, would rather see all GWCL holders have the same rights and privileges as are contained in OCGA 16-11-130.

Kelly Burke is a former district attorney and magistrate judge currently in private practice in Georgia.