Catoosa County Used to Say "No Guns" in School Parking Lots; now Just No Guns in School

Discussion in 'Places Off-Limits' started by Dawgdoc, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. Dawgdoc

    Dawgdoc Active Member

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    In light of recent news stories and past statements from school boards that indicated a misunderstanding of 16-11-127.1, I decided to ask what was the Catoosa County Schools policy on weapons in vehicles. I first asked them via a link in the Superintendent's security letter; no reply. Fortunately, I still had the Superintendent's direct email address, which was mysteriously absent from their website. I received a call from the the Director of Operations; he opened up a conference call with me and the head SRO for the schools. He wanted to know what my exact questions and concerns were.

    I asked what was their policy in regard to GWCL holders keeping guns in their cars on school property. The SRO indicated that we could have a gun while in transit through a school zone, but not while parked. He specifically used the example of a person attending a football game on school property and leaving a gun in their car.

    Needless to say, I was a bit perturbed that they had a fundamental misunderstanding of Georgia law, especially since the word "parked" is only 8 words before the word "transit" in the code, so he knows where to look. I pointed out that we could have guns in parked cars, and could leave the guns in the car legally.

    I then asked about teachers keeping guns in their car; the quick response was that "We don't allow teachers to have guns in their cars." I again pointed out that was not in accordance with Georgia law. The DO asked for specific code sections (they both seemed truly ignorant of the law, to my dismay). I told him I would have to email him when I got home from work.

    Also during our conversation, he tried to placate my concerns about security by mentioning their plans to place SRO in every school (primary and elementary schools have none now). I lost my a cool a bit as I re-iterated my attempts to convince the school board to provide an armed defense (https://www.georgiapacking.org/threads/going-before-the-school-board-nov-4.262604/) and the failure of the Board to provide meaningful defense despite several high profile mass murders (one of which was nearby) in subsequent years.

    When I got home, I emailed the relevant code sections from OCGA on Lexis-Nexis. I was much more eloquent in the written form. I'm sure they think I'm a know-it-all wannabe lawyer, but I have very real concerns of false arrest since I have to pick up my son for appointments on a regular basis. Also, if the SRO were to follow through with his wrong interpretation of the law, then anyone with pocket knife with a 2.5 inch blade in their car on school property could be arrested. Although the number of people who have guns in cars on school property might be small, I bet there are a lot of knife carriers around here.
     
  2. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    The law is pretty clear, and especially more so if you are there to pick up a student (which I do not think is limited to "in the car," as keeping it in the car is a separate exception, but I would not count on a judge ruling your way in the current climate if you were caught carrying outside your vehicle to pick up a student).
     

  3. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    Try to get it in writing from them, and tell them that you will lawfully leave your firearm in your parked car when you have business (other than picking up or dropping off) at the school.

    Ask them what they will do to you.

    If you can get enough evidence to sue them, then sue them.
     
  4. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    Mike Sholl
    Director of Operations
    Phone: 706-965-2297
     
  5. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    Here is one email address the Superintendent uses: questions@catoosa.k12.ga.us

    I plan to submit an open records request.
     
  6. Dawgdoc

    Dawgdoc Active Member

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    The "questions" email address never answered, but this one got a reply from the superintendent's office:
    dreese@catoosa.k12.ga.us

    I sent a detailed email, first reiterating what they told me, then copies of the relevant code, then explaining in clear English what it meant. I'll give them a chance to see the error of their ways before I post everything, and an email to the Sheriff might be needed also.
     
  7. Dawgdoc

    Dawgdoc Active Member

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    As for suing them, I doubt I have the money to go that route, which is why I didn't make any such threats. I would rather that logic and reasoning convince them they are wrong (which may be an uphill battle).
     
  8. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    Ask GCO if they would sue on your behalf. If they ban firearms in parked cars, that is a violation of state preemption.
     
  9. Dawgdoc

    Dawgdoc Active Member

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    The DO responded to my email the next day, saying he was seeking clarification on the issue. Apparently he had another conversation with the SRO. I was patiently awaiting the response, but after two days, a I sent another email.

    The summary is that the SRO has realized (or was told) that he was wrong about guns in parked cars, and Catoosa does not have a policy forbidding teachers from keeping guns in their cars. He did think there was some issue with wording about the exception to the general prohibition that allows teachers to have guns in their cars without a GWCL (apparently they or their lawyers do not understand the "authorized to possess" phrase used in the code), but most of the teachers and administrators who I know have a GWCL anyway. I don't have the exact code in front of me now.

    He also mentioned that in his research, he found that many other school systems had the same erroneous policy that they original told me about teachers keeping guns in cars; I wonder if this is an issue for GCO? For now, Catoosa is supposed to following the law as written.

    In my email citing the code sections, I also mentioned the part about "carrying or picking up a student" and what it means. As expected, they (meaning the Catoosa Sheriff and the school system) are interpreting (misinterpreting) that to mean picking up or dropping off from a vehicle. I tried to succinctly explain how the code does not specify a vehicle, and that some parents "pick up" their students by walking to school. He said he still needs to talk with the Sheriff about that issue. Ultimately, it will be the Sheriff's deputies who would be arresting a person carrying at a school while picking up a student, so I will proceed with caution in that regard.
     
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  10. UtiPossidetis

    UtiPossidetis American

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    You are probably on safer ground dealing with the Sheriff than those of us in counties that have their own Board Of Education Police Department. Good luck.
     
  11. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    (7) A person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10, when such person carries or picks up a student within a school safety zone, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by a school or a person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10 when he or she has any weapon legally kept within a vehicle when such vehicle is parked within a school safety zone or is in transit through a designated school safety zone;

    (8 ) weapon possessed by a license holder which is under the possessor's control in a motor vehicle or which is in a locked compartment of a motor vehicle or one which is in a locked container in or a locked firearms rack which is on a motor vehicle which is being used by an adult over 21 years of age to bring to or pick up a student within a school safety zone, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by a school, or when such vehicle is used to transport someone to an activity being conducted within a school safety zone which has been authorized by a duly authorized official or local board of education as provided by paragraph (6) of this subsection; provided, however, that this exception shall not apply to a student attending a public or private elementary or secondary school;


    As you can see, there are three different things here. (1) Picking up or carrying a student, (2) keeping a gun in the car when parked, and (3) having a gun in possession and control in a car.

    They do not appear to overlap to me. The interpretation they are giving appears to render (1) redundant to (3). Also, why add "on a bus" to the first one if you have to stay in your car? Can you take your car "on a bus?"

    That just does not make sense.

    If the school required you to come inside to pick up your student, the statute says that it does not apply to "A person who is licensed . . . when such person . . . picks up a student within a school safety zone, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by a school . . ."

    It then begins another exception with the word "or."

    This quite plainly reads to me that the law does not apply to a person with a license who picks up a student. It does not say that the law does not apply to a licensed person who picks up a student, but only so long as he does not dare exit his car.

    If this ever comes to court, however, it is subject to the "Oh, no, GUNS!" rule, which requires panic any time there is a gun and a school. Judges are not immune and may apply this as a rule of law. I especially would not want to be in court right now defending myself using the 127.1(c)(7) first exception with the Parkland massacre being such a matter of public discourse at the moment. I do not pretend that judges are immune to hysteria and personal prejudices and always apply the law just as written.
     
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  12. Dawgdoc

    Dawgdoc Active Member

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    MP, I'm going to use your breakdown of the wording when I email him again (he wanted the relevant code) and if I talk with the Sheriff.

     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  13. Dawgdoc

    Dawgdoc Active Member

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    So I heard the final word today from the Director Operations. The head SRO consulted with the District Attorney. The DA stated that people with GWCL could of course keep guns in their cars, but absolutely cannot carry into schools (for any reason), and they will arrest and prosecute people who do so.

    I agree with MP that the judges around here would take a dim view of anyone interpreting the law otherwise. I wish I could see the mental calculations TPTB used to ignore our plain reading of the law.
     
  14. TimBob

    TimBob Old, Slow, Boring Dude

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    Ignoring the plain reading of the law (and the Constitution) is pretty much the way things work today.
     
  15. UtiPossidetis

    UtiPossidetis American

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    Need a letter from the GA AG's office about what the law says. IT would be pretty hard for the local DA to ignore.
     
  16. Dawgdoc

    Dawgdoc Active Member

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    I don't think the current or former AG have ever had an official or unofficial opinion on this issue, otherwise we would know about it here. I definitely could not find it on the AG opinions website. I also suspect that if the AG were to give an opinion at the request of a local DA, it would be in line with Catoosa's opinion.
     
  17. UtiPossidetis

    UtiPossidetis American

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    Don't be so sure. The AG has to deal with the legislature as a whole a lot more than any local DA.