Georgia's Council of Superior Court Judges opposes a portion of a bill that would allow licensed gun owners to bring firearms into unguarded courthouses and judicial buildings.
Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson, who is president of the council, said Wednesday the group's legislative committee is against that section of House Bill 512.
The bill passed the House of Representatives last week and is before the Senate. Last week Emerson said his group was surprised by the provision, adding, "In my courtroom, I do not allow firearms on anybody other than courtroom security officerseven [police] officers, who we trust, aren't allowed. I don't like the idea of a witness on a witness stand with a gun."
House Bill 512 would ease restrictions on where gun owners with concealed carry permits may bring their firearms. The provision opposed by the superior court judges' council states that gun owners may carry their guns into government buildings and courthouses "where ingress to such building or courthouse is not restricted or screened by security personnel."
The bill is now before the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, who is a lawyer. Neither Stone nor the bill's initial sponsor, Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, could be reached immediately Wednesday to discuss the judges' opposition.
On Wednesday, DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown issued a statement saying he opposes the carry provisions.
"In DeKalb, we have had several occasions in which victims, criminal suspects and even those in opposing civil legal positions have argued and even fought," Brown said. "The only guns needed for protection of these individuals were the ones carried by my deputies. If those involved in courthouse conflicts possessed weapons, the outcomes would definitely have been different."