HomeGunsGeorgia's Attorney General Puts Stop To City of Savannah's Anti-Gun Shenanigans

Georgia’s Attorney General Puts Stop To City of Savannah’s Anti-Gun Shenanigans

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Recently, anti-gun doofuses on Savannah, Georgia’s city council thought it would be cute to pass some local gun control ordinances. On the surface, the ordinances seemed fairly reasonable. One tells people in the city to secure firearms in a vehicle that’s unoccupied (a generally good idea). Another requires people to report stolen guns to law enforcement (again, a good idea).

But, there’s just one problem: Georgia cities don’t have the authority to do that. In response, the state’s attorney general sent the city a letter advising them to repeal the new ordinances. It reads, in part:

“As you may be aware, this Office provides courtesy review of the written legal opinions and conclusions of counsel for local governments. We are not aware of the analysis of the ordinances by your office if any and this Office was not requested to conduct any review of advice. Had this office been requested to do so in this matter, our analysis would have concluded that the ordinances directly conflict with, and are preempted by, state law.”

The letter goes on to explain that Georgia law prohibits local governments from enacting any kind of gun control, including regulations of possession, ownership, transport, and carrying. Not only is this state law, but courts have affirmed multiple times that local governments are subject to this law, and that nothing like “home rule” or any other legal doctrine gives them any kind of an out.

Carr concludes that this makes the city’s new ordinances “ultra vires and void”. In other words, the city acted outside of and beyond its legal authority, and thus the ordinances have no force of law whatsoever.

Simply knowing that it’s void doesn’t mean that the city is out of the woods. Leaving a void ordinance on the books can result in serious consequences should a law enforcement officer or local judge mistakenly attempt to enforce the void law.

For example, police officers in El Paso, Texas once attempted to enforce a law against homosexuality that was still on the books in Texas years after being found invalid at the Supreme Court. But, because the law was still on the books, police officers put their city at great financial risk when they relied on it to detain and harass some gay men who had kissed in a restaurant.

Fortunately for the city and a security contractor, the men only wanted better police and security guard training to reach a settlement, but civil rights cases like this often go far worse for governments. Arresting, fining, or even  temporarily detaining anyone for violating an invalid law means that the city itself would be violating civil rights, leaving themselves wide open for big lawsuits that cost at least tens of thousands of dollars (and sometimes far more). With this letter, they now can’t even claim ignorance or that it was an honest mistake!

The state can’t make them repeal the ordinances, but the city would be very wise to repeal the new ordinances and review their book of ordinances to see if there’s anything else that shouldn’t be there.

Read the full article here

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