A state law expanding gun owners’ rights to carry their weapons is prompting Hinesville officials to weigh security at city hall and other public places.
“I think, under the law, we can check for weapons only if we have a metal detector,” Hinesville City Councilman Charles Frasier said at Thursday’s council meeting. “We can’t ask anyone coming in about it.”
He was referring to a HB 60, the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, which opponents have nicknamed the “guns everywhere” bill. The General Assembly passed the bill and Gov. Nathan Deal signed it two weeks ago. It goes into effect July 1 and is best known for increasing places where permitted gun-owners can bring their weapons, including churches and bars unless the owners of those places ban weapons.
The provision that has Frasier concerned, however, allows firearms into any government building that is open for business and doesn’t have security personnel restricting access or screening visitors. There normally is a Hinesville Police Department officer on duty at city hall, but not to screen people coming in, according to officials.
Mayor Jim Thomas agreed with Frasier’s concern but said he doubts the city can afford to buy, install and man metal detectors at its doors during the current budget year.
“We need to discuss what level of security we want and can afford,” Thomas said.
Frasier asked that the issue be put on future meeting agendas.
Both the mayor and City Manager Billy Edwards said that whatever the city does, they think the law will be amended when the General Assembly reconvenes.
“There is a lot of anger from city and counties,” Thomas said. “There’s going to be some changes.”