Friday, March 17, 2023

Some Republicans (Not In Georgia) Are Serious About Self-Defense in K-12 Schools © 2023 Phillip Evans

It used to be legal for adults to carry firearms in K-12 schools in Georgia. Then Jim Crow laws targeted at Blacks took root, with the first (among many) of firearms carry prohibitions being passed by White Democrats in 1833. 

And yet, it is only in post-prohibition times that we've had a series of tragic mass murder shootings in schools that were  supposedly "gun-free" zones, where guns were not allowed, at least not for teachers, parents, and other citizen defenders.

In 1870 White Democrats in Georgia passed the infamous "public gathering" law (Blacks were coming to church armed for their protection, and this was an affront to the KKK and their friends in the Georgia General Assembly), making it illegal for even a person with a firearms permit (now called a weapons carry license) to carry in almost any public place.

This law remained on the books in Georgia until 2010! But look: Republicans took the majority in the Georgia House and Senate in 2007. I suppose the desire for a little liberty took them three years to warm up to.

With this background of gun control laws in mind, I emailed all lawmakers under the Gold Dome in Atlanta the following on March 16th, 2023:

Dear Lawmakers,

Arizona Republicans apparently trust (gasp!) licensed parents and guardians to be armed in K-12 schools (SB 1331 passed their Senate and will likely pass the House).

They don't seem to lack an "appetite" for furthering liberty (hearken back to Casey Cagle), nor do they seem to suffer "fatigue" for pro-gun rights bills as Rep. Jay Collins does.

Their Democrat governor will likely veto it, but who needs Democrats when you can count on Republicans to not even give us crumbs this year in Georgia.

Those of you who proclaim that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun fail to see the hypocrisy when you don't let the good guys be armed. Does that make sense?

I know that saying this will hurt feelings, but take solace in the fact that hurt feelings are far less painful than innocent lives lost, because the state mandated that victims remained helpless to immediately fight back with good effect.

I know, I know, school districts can grant permission for teachers and parents to be armed, but just between us, we all know that 98% of districts won't allow it.

Actual leadership on this issue is required. A mass school shooting in Georgia where the only tools to fight back are erasers, books, and chairs is simply not acceptable, not moral, and not Christian in the least.

Either licensed carriers are trusted or we are not. We already carry around children every single day in public parks, libraries, zoos, restaurants, malls, etc., without incident. We've met the burden of proof. What more do you want from us in order to be convinced?

If unlicensed court clerks could carry legally in K-12 schools even when a license was required to carry a handgun in public, why can't licensed carriers enjoy that same degree of self-defense capability?

Is there no one capable of articulating liberty who can introduce such a bill for next year?

Trusting bad guys not to hit a vulnerable target is not a good strategy for safety, not for our children, or for anyone.

End of Email

Perhaps 2024 might find some light shining on some backbone somewhere in the Georgia General Assembly. We can only hope. 

One can only wonder why Republicans continue to hold onto Democrat enacted laws that prohibit good people from being armed in K-12 schools, churches (that are not opted into HB 60), polling places when voting, courthouses (should just be courtrooms), and government buildings with screening but no adequate security either inside or in the parking areas.

In 2022 Republican politicians saved us a little money by removing the paperwork requirement to carry a handgun in public, but left all the other infringements on the books. Yet, they crowed about it like it was the end, the finish line. Don't worry folks, we ALL saw that coming. Getting zero from 2018-2021 didn't make permitless carry the end all be all it was made out to be.

In 2023, we got zero yet again. So here we are still stuck with government-mandated victim kill zones put in place by Democrats, that apparently Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly are all too happy with keeping.

Monday, February 27, 2023

"I'm For The Second Amendment BUT, BUT, BUT ..." © 2023 Phillip Evans

Photo by Michael Tefft, Creative Commons 2.0 License

While I applaud the sheriff for agreeing that law-abiding citizens should be able to carry a concealed pistol in public without a government permission slip, I have to take him to task for his puzzling double-mindedness.

The normal state of everyday carry of arms when the Constitution was signed, was OPENLY, as well as at least 100 years afterward. Even those opposed to armed self-defense know this. 

Don't get me wrong; I am not saying you must openly carry. Concealed carry is fine and most who arm themselves for protection will only conceal carry. What I am saying is no free citizen should be jailed merely for peacefully carrying a pistol or rifle in plain view. 

Sheriff Gualtieri, by his own words on recorded video above clearly would not mind putting you on the ground, handcuffing you in front of your children, separating you from your family and placing you in a cold concrete and steel cell MERELY for visibly exercising your Constitutional Rights. If he denies this, he is a liar, because that is the current law in Florida. The same law he would hate to see repealed.

Astonishingly, he swore an oath to the same U.S. Constitution that should be a bulwark against any use of force aimed at citizens who merely wish to carry a firearm openly.

Here's the salt in the wound - even though the law has an exception for brief exposure, such as your shirt riding up and revealing your pistol, numerous citizens have suffered detainment and arrest subsequent to those brief exposures. So much for that supposed protection.

Sounds to me like legalizing open carry would solve that problem - a good purpose in my eyes at least. Not to mention open carry being a crime deterrent, and at a minimum, letting adults who enjoy liberty have the choice to carry openly or concealed as they wish.

Because Gualtieri sees "no good purpose" for open carry, he feels justified to physically accost and kidnap you to jail if you dare do it. Sounds like a means test to me, and the Bruen decision effectively erased any means test affronting the Second Amendment.

Unfortunately, most Republican politicians in Florida agree with Gualtieri and DON'T CARE if you are robbed of your right to carry openly under penalty of jail, while they smile and lie to your face that they fully support your Second Amendment Rights.

Where do these arrogant suits in Tallahassee come off to insist that a fundamental American right be restricted to only being practiced in secret? Is the First Amendment also so burdened?

Apparently too many Republicans are still in love with deceased Democrat Janet Reno, who orchestrated the open carry ban in 1987.

Call, write, and demand that they amend SB 150 to add open carry, and to abolish at least some of the offensive off-limits places to self-defense carry for We The People. 

* SB 150 is being mismarketed by milquetoast Republicans as "Constitutional Carry" just because it removes the license requirement for concealed carry, while leaving in place the general ban on open carry, as well as numerous self-defense prohibited places even for licensed carriers where they must disarm or be thrown in jail merely for not wanting to be defenseless in the face of a possible deadly threat. When all these things are dealt with, then they can call it "Constitutional Carry". 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Georgia: 18-20 Year Old's Second Amendment Rights © 2023 Phillip Evans

In the state of Georgia (as elsewhere) adults 18 and over are not second class citizens. They have reached the age of majority and are no longer minors. Are they to have all of their constitutional rights except for those enumerated in the Second Amendment?

May of 2021 saw plaintiffs Christopher Baughcum Jr., Zane Meyers, Sophie Long, and Firearms Policy Coalition file a lawsuit* against three Georgia probate judges who are charged with issuing weapons licenses. These judges will not issue a license to anyone under 21 unless they are in active duty military service or honorably discharged from such.

The plaintiffs desire to carry a handgun in public for self-defense purposes, and did not apply for a license, as that would have been a futile exercise. Surely an honest court would not require one to resort to futility in order to have standing to sue for their rights.

Thankfully, it is on appeal. In light of Bruen, it should be decided on the merits in their favor, as I predict it will.

However, the Georgia General Assembly, long held in the majority by Republicans, can fix it this year by repealing the general ban on adults 18-20 carrying handguns in public. 

A few of our lawmakers are stalwart supporters of our Second Amendment Rights. Sadly, too many give not much more than lip service. 

Ironically, it might be better for a higher court to handle this instead of the General Assembly, and over-turn the ban as unconstitutional. That way, anyone convicted under that law while committing no other offense could have their record cleared, and possibly win monetary damages for being incarcerated or fined just for exercising their right to be armed outside their homes while being an adult but not yet old enough to qualify as a "lawful carrier" under the current state of infringement.

* One of plaintiffs' counsel is Atty. John R. Monroe who is a founding member of GA2A and Vice President.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Let The Prisoners Go Free! © 2022 Phillip Evans

There are men and women sitting in jail or prison today whose only "crime" was carrying a weapon (firearm, knife, etc.) for self-defense purposes, but without a government permission slip. And those that have managed to get out have gone through untold hardships to include stress, divorce, loss of home, loss of income, etc., not to mention a criminal record.

Now that we have the U.S. Supreme Court Bruen decision, are we going to soon see a mass exodus to liberty for these political prisoners who are immorally held hostage merely because elite politicians virtue signaled by passing Jim Crow laws requiring citizens to obtain a license to carry a self-defense weapon?

Or will this be a one-at-a-time slow wheels of "justice" process with Democrats fighting it tooth and nail every step of the way?

I'm demanding that these prisoners be set free right now with the full exercise of their rights restored! And with sufficient monetary compensation for the time that was stolen from them and their families by government.

Some of them are women who preferred not to be raped, who armed themselves in New York City where for decades it's been practically impossible for non-rich, non-politically connected citizens to obtain a carry license in that City's mafia-type corrupt, Democrat run government.

Some of them are Blacks who carried a gun because they didn't want to get robbed or gunned down on the street. And it was the motive to disarm Blacks that prompted White Democrats to pass a license requirement in the first place.

Practically all of them are regular United States citizens who supposedly had the free exercise of a human right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. But local, state, and federal governments have been playing pretend for too many years that such protection didn't really apply to citizens, that "shall not be infringed" doesn't really mean what it says.

I don't expect our current President to know or care about this topic. But by now every state governor knows about the Bruen decision. And if any of them has any genuine intelligence, they understand that a requirement to obtain a license to exercise our Second Amendment Rights was never the intent of the Founding Fathers, and for at least 100 years after the U.S. Constitution's ratification there was no requirement for such a license. Such is the historical evidence, which is now the test for whether a law touching on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is constitutional.

Governors should start now by issuing full pardons and restoration of rights for any convictions related to license requirements to possess or carry a firearm or other self-defense weapon if the person was carrying for lawful purposes.

If it's taken 233 years for our High Court to finally get to a decision like Bruen, surely there should be no further delay. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in his letter from a Birmingham, Alabama jail that "justice too long delayed is justice denied".

Monday, November 7, 2022

Florida Blind Man Falsely Arrest Over Openly Carried Gun (Actually Cane) © 2022 Phillip Evans

Once Deputy Gohdy verified the cane was not a firearm, the "reasonable, articulable suspicion" basis for the initial detainment vaporized. Mr. Hodges should have immediately been free to go. However, the deputy, admitting to be a "tyrant", pressed the issue as well as another deputy and demanded that Mr. Hodges identify himself.

When he politely refused, as well as properly asserted his right to not be searched, they cuffed him and rifled through his papers anyway, and took him to jail.

This incident is wrong on so many levels. Now that the Second Amendment's "shall not be infringed" is starting to mean what it says, due to Justice Thomas' brilliant opinion in Bruen, the handful of states that generally ban the open carry of firearms like Florida, are going to either repeal the ban, or have it ruled as unconstitutional. Voluntarily or kicking and screaming it will happen, and soon.

Look, I get it that most citizens who legally carry would never carry openly. But I'm at least hopeful that no one who claims to be a genuine supporter of our rights would agree to put someone behind bars for peacefully carrying a holstered, visible pistol. You might not think it a good idea, but you choose to live and let live, right?

Folks, this is Gov. Ron DeSantis' state, the one who promised to sign "Constitutional Carry" if a bill landed on his desk, but who has never publicly called for it in earnest to get to his desk. See the catch?

The general ban on open carry is just one. Others are the many enumerated off-limits places, as well as a slew of unenumerated off-limits places where a private entity can temporarily rent, lease, or have a permitted event on public property used for the general public, and can ban firearms carry on your tax-payer owned property. That's a big one, and should be fixed pronto.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Zoo Atlanta Officials: LIE-ons, Tigers, And Bear-ers, Oh My! © 2022 Phillip Evans

Zoo Atlanta Photo (Public Domain)

I believe the very first sentence is a lie. I'm near 100% certain Zoo Officials consulted with legal resources at the City of Atlanta, and was told flat out they had zero legal grounds, otherwise the City would have gotten behind them and provided at least a little support for their position, but there was none forthcoming.

And if they really believed their legal position was sound, why did they fold so quickly on Oct. 28th? No one at all that I know of threatened any legal action. I certainly did not threaten to sue them, but I did email them on Oct. 20th that it could cost them a lawsuit if they violated anyone's rights. They were certainly free to make a knowledgeable determination as to how to avoid doing such. 

Another odd thing about their statement - If they really believed that lawful carry of weapons was a threat to visitors, they certainly placed avoiding "distraction" and "expense of litigation" at a higher priority than your safety, and it didn't take them long to reach that decision.

Perhaps they truly don't believe lawfully carried weapons are an issue at the Zoo. Such a sentiment is merely an excuse to support their political position of gun control. After all, their official policy since sometime in 2016 until Sept. 1st, 2022 was to ALLOW lawfully carried weapons, with zero problems at all by lawful carriers during that time.

What was the impetus for their Sept. 1st renewed gun ban this year? It was an attempt to piggyback onto the Atlanta Botanical Garden's case in it being decided that it possessed an "estate for years" type lease which gave it ownership rights.

Apparently, Zoo Officials were unable to realize that the Zoo possesses no lease at all for the publicly owned property inside Grant Park. The Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority, a government entity, holds the lease. Some folks just don't know how to pay attention to details, and details often matter.

I've taken my family to visit Zoo Atlanta at least three times in years past, and wore my visibly holstered pistol on my hip, with no issues at all. No one seemed to bat an eye, not even the international visitors. Once, a member of Zoo Security asked to see my license to carry, and I politely provided it. Now, anyone who qualifies for a license is considered a lawful carrier. They are no longer required to do the paperwork and pay a fee to exercise their Second Amendment Rights in public, as it should be.

Some of the comments on this story out on the web are rather humorous. Some are saying because of the Zoo's capitulation, they are never going back. Did they not know the Zoo allowed weapons carry from 2016? Did they also not know the Zoo has never had metal detectors for general admission? 

Others are incredulous that anyone would need a gun at a zoo. I suppose one could make that same empty argument regarding any place that is supposed to be safe. Unfortunately, criminals don't care whether a park, bike trail, zoo, restaurant, theater, library, or school is supposed to safe. When bad guys make appointments, I'll know when I can leave my gun at home. But if I'm on the road traveling to the zoo, I'll be armed, and I won't be leaving my gun in the zoo's parking lot to be potentially stolen. People also sometimes get attacked walking in parking lots.

As for the racist comments that gun rights advocates are only doing this because of criminals who are Black, that's a load of garbage. In several of my blog articles I have made it clear that Black citizens should be armed for their protection. Percentage-wise they are victims of violent crime more than non-Blacks. I have seen Blacks carrying a gun on their hip in the open just like me, and felt safe around them, and have thanked them in person.

A human right such as armed self-defense belongs to us all equally, regardless of race. I wish Black Democrat politicians would believe that too, instead of trying to disarm their own people when they are at just as much or more risk from being harmed by crime than others.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Zoo Atlanta To Demand Your Weapons Carry License? © 2022 Phillip Evans

I continue to be astonished at the incorrect information Zoo Officials continue to make public. They should be ashamed of embarrassing Ms. Davis with the task of repeating such drivel.

First of all, Georgia does not have a "permit", it is a "weapons carry license".

Finally, even if a license were still required to carry a handgun in public, the Zoo would still lack the legal authority to demand to see anyone's license.

They certainly may politely ask to view your weapons license if you happen to carry openly, and you may politely decline to answer, with no actionable consequences against you for your refusal, such as kicking you off the property, or anything else.

So just wish them a nice day and go on about your visit. You don't have to show them anything other than your ticket or membership card.

The irony in all this flip-flop saga of banning, allowing, then banning again and once again allowing weapons, is that the Zoo has never effectively banned weapons in the first place. Never any metal detectors to my knowledge, although they might have used them in the past for special events, I don't know. But in general weapons have always been on Zoo property carried by lawful and sometimes unlawful carriers, and they know that.

Neither a paper policy nor a prohibition on a website can keep anyone safe. Real safety lies in the ability of people to keep themselves safe from armed criminals, not in virtue signaling or in giving lip service to safety. Feel-goods for the sheep do not a reality make.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Banning Weapons - Mystery Of The Public or Private Property Question © 2022 Phillip Evans

Like most anyone, I love a good mystery, but only on TV as I don't have much time or patience for reading a large novel. 

However, when it comes to where I can carry a firearm or other lawful weapon on privately leased, but publicly owned property used by the public, I want it cut and dry every time.

Open Clipart Image of Detective Used, Text Mine

Georgia's HB60 that became law July 1st, 2014 was intended to be the cure for this mystery. The Georgia General Assembly logically inserted the word "private" into the law to clarify that only privately owned property owners could blanket-wise ban all weapons from their property.

When the Atlanta Botanical Garden (publicly owned property, but privately leased) raised its hackles at this provision and refused to follow it, Georgia Carry (now and I filed suit against the Garden.

What followed was a mixed bag of legal goods.

The Georgia Supreme Court gave us a general victory of sorts in Oct. 2019 when it ruled that those in control of privately leased public property could not ban weapons IF it merely held a "usufruct" (to use and enjoy) type lease, but that they could if they held an "estate for years" (ownership rights during the lease term) type lease.

The Garden's lease type was litigated and determined to be an "estate for years" on Jan. 31st, 2022 by the Georgia Court of Appeals. But being a property owner now means you get to pay property tax. Be careful what you wish for!

Now another entity, Zoo Atlanta (located on public property), wants on the Garden bandwagon and Sept. 1st, 2022 reinstated its blanket weapons ban (except for law enforcement), after following state law for the last few years. However, the Zoo is not in possession of the property's leasehold interest. The Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority (a government entity) holds it, so this should be a slam-dunk for us hopefully not requiring court action.

Although a lease with a length term exceeding five years is presumed to be an "estate for years", that is not the only factor to consider. Conditions in the lease may determine even a 50 year lease to be a "usufruct".

So do we need to litigate potentially hundreds or even more leases around the state to get to the bottom of whether those publicly owned properties used by the public, but privately leased, can ban legally carried weapons? What a chore that would be!

Here's the fix: REQUIRE by law that any government entity that leases public property to a private entity explicitly specifies in the lease whether the lease grants an estate for years or is merely a usufruct.

Not only would this benefit citizens who wish to protect their right to carry on their tax-payer owned public property, but it would also benefit government in determining whether these large private entities should be paying their fair share of property tax.

It's notable that the City of Atlanta specified in their lease contract with the Garden that the Garden was not to pay property tax. One would think that meant the City was signaling the lease was merely a usufruct, as those by law are not taxable.

The Georgia Court of Appeals, beyond belief, instead took this to mean that even if the City unlawfully granted the Garden a tax exemption, it still had an estate for years. Talk about upside down logic, or total lack thereof.

Hopefully, our Georgia General Assembly will once again take action and put final closure to this issue once and for all. 

Our right to be armed to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from criminals on public, tax-payer owned property should not be held hostage by lease documents of a type we do not clearly know, that we should be burdened with the task of suing in order to find out.

Government shenanigans where leases are written with a wink and a nod letting the lessees assumedly get to have "private property" rights to ban weapons carried by lawful citizens, but not have to pay property tax is unfair and immoral, and should be immediately stopped.

Regardless of how one feels about citizens carrying guns in public, at least we can all agree that businesses should pay their fair share of the tax burden. How many millions of dollars have you and I had to pay in property tax because certain businesses got an unlawful free ride out of paying their property taxes?

Friday, October 21, 2022

Atlanta Botanical Garden - Tax Man Cometh? © 2022 Phillip Evans

The Atlanta Botanical Garden won a court case Jan. 1st, 2022 which allows it to ban weapons on its property that is leased from the City of Atlanta. Georgia Carry (now GA2A) and I were plaintiffs in the case

The Court's ruling means that the Garden is and has been a property owner for several years, and like all other property owners in the State of Georgia per the Georgia Constitution, it is required to pay property tax unless it receives an exception granted in accordance with state law. And there is a new case over taxes filed by a resident of Atlanta and a resident of Fulton County for these governments' failures to collect property tax from the Garden. (1)

Has the Garden made application for any exemption? 

I'm guessing not, since during the lawsuit originally filed in 2014, they relied on the City of Atlanta's stipulation in their lease agreement that they do not have to pay property tax. 

To date, neither the City nor Fulton County has ever collected property tax from the Garden, and the Fulton County Tax Assessor website continues to list the Garden as PUBLIC, not private property, in spite of the Georgia Court of Appeals ruling making it private property.

Fulton County Property Classification: E1 = Public Property, with Land Use Code 610 (Recreation/Health)

The Georgia Department of Revenue's 2022 Opening Session PowerPoint Presentation highlights some of the facts of the case starting at slide 75:

While not giving an opinion whether the Garden should pay AVT (ad valorem tax) on the property, the report is indicative that the GA DOR is keenly aware of the issue, as it should be. And I'm sure they are keeping a sharp eye on further developments.

Additionally, will the fact that the Garden is now a private property owner have any impact on its tax filings with the IRS? Very possibly, especially if the IRS views the non-payment of property tax on private property as taxable income.

Were the Garden to be billed for all the back property taxes it owes, it could amount to over $100 million dollars - money which other property owners in Atlanta and Fulton County have had to pay to make up for the difference while the Garden has not been paying its share of the government mandated burden.

The City of Atlanta continues to pour millions of tax-payer dollars into the Garden property, and yet the property which is part of Piedmont Park is supposedly "private property"? Unreal.

The GA Court of Appeals mind-boggedly did not view it as a troublesome issue to rule that the Garden possessed an estate for years and at the same time not pay property tax, so it would not surprise me if it were to rule in favor of the Garden in regard to property taxes in the new lawsuit if it gets to that level.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court may not look kindly on such a flagrant violation of the Georgia Constitution. Were the Garden to be allowed an unfair pass on paying its fair share, other large property owners would come forward wanting the same treatment, with the mom and pop businesses and homeowners stuck with the shaft to make up the shortfall.

Should the Garden see the writing on the wall, it may quickly work with the City of Atlanta to rewrite their lease contract to convert it to a "usufruct" (a license to use and enjoy), which by law is not subject to property tax, but then the Garden could not ban lawfully carried weapons. 

Would doing that shield the Garden from back property taxes? I don't see how, as it would be a new contract going forward. 

The Garden, in its zeal to ban lawful carriers being armed while visiting, may have gotten itself wedged between a rock and a hard place in the sense that it may have to pay millions of dollars in tax arrears regardless if its lease is changed or not. The irony is that firearms and other weapons are still getting into the Garden every single day, as good citizens primarily carry concealed, and there are no metal detectors or searches upon entry.

So the reality is that all this time and expense the Garden has involved itself with, has been to ban a fraction of lawful carriers who choose to openly carry a visibly holstered pistol on their side.

The issue isn't about safety from the Garden's point of view - they KNOW guns get in on a regular basis. It is about appearance only. And even that is for nothing. Other public venues such as Stone Mountain Park, with many more visitors and from all over the world, has virtually daily sightings of citizens openly carrying a handgun, with no impact on revenue and no other issues as a result.

If you value your Second Amendment Rights and desire that laws are passed which honor and promote the right to keep and bear arms, then become a member of GA2A, the only statewide organization with a proven track record of success in working with the Georgia General Assembly to further our self-defense liberties.

(1) The City of Atlanta and Fulton County are being sued by two private citizens over the Atlanta Botanical Garden getting an unlawful pass to not pay property taxes as a property owner, as the Court of Appeals ruled this year that the Garden has an "estate for years" type lease, meaning certain property ownership rights, such as the ability to ban weapons. Fulton Superior Court Case Number: 2022cv368333. Create an account on their website to search for the case.

(2) An Estate for Years is a grant of “the right to use the property in as absolute a manner as may be done with a greater estate, provided that the property or the person who is entitled to the remainder or reversion interest is not injured by such use.” O.C.G.A. § 44-6-103.