Judges question gun permit change

March 23, 2010

CLAXTON, GA (WTOC) - David Boatright orders guns for customers from his Claxton hardware store. He just recently renewed his own concealed weapon permit at the Evans County Courthouse. He called the process quick and efficient.

"I'm a federal license holder and a gun dealer and I have to go through the same process as everybody else," he said.

He has followed the debate over Georgia Senate Bill 308. The changes to the state's concealed weapon permit regulations would allow Georgians to carry a weapon in some places and restrict them in others. What Boatright didn't know until Thursday was his next license would come from the Secretary of State's office if the bill is passed.

"The system is already in place on the local level. To move it to Atlanta and open new offices or whatever that entails. It makes no sense to me," he added.

Probate Judge Darin McCoy says judges around the state are shaking their heads too.

"At a time when the budget is an issue, there's no money in the state, this is going to be a huge undertaking by the state," McCoy stated.

Judge McCoy said the change would take away a lot of work for probate offices, but not much money. The state already gets $40 of the $60 charged to process a request. The $20 that goes to the probate office covers state and federal criminal history reports and digital fingerprinting.

Lawmakers have suggested the state could process permit requests faster than local judges. McCoy wondered if the Secretary of State will make gun owners come to Atlanta to get their permit. David suspected other motives for the switch.

"They can call it what they want, but it comes down to another level of gun control," he said. "Another step to make it harder for law-abiding citizens to be able to get a license to carry a gun.

He and McCoy urged anyone who opposes that aspect of the bill to contact their local representatives.

To read the current version of the bill, visit http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/sum/sb308.htm.