Right to Retreat at Security Checkpoint

Discussion in 'GA Laws and Politics' started by GAfirearmsReference, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. GAfirearmsReference

    GAfirearmsReference Weapons Law Booklet

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    I think we ought to have a thread just on this topic: The right to retreat if you bring a gun to a government building and fail to clear the security checkpoint due to that, and the cops / deputies / guards at the checkpoint will not hold it for you or provide you with safe storage during your visit to the government building.

    Have you already committed a crime by entering the building and approaching that weapons-screening checkpoint while armed? I say no-- the crime isn't complete unless and until the gun is revealed at the checkpoint and the authorities give you a chance to leave (go lock it in your vehicle and come back unarmed, is what I think the legislature had in mind).

    Recently a Sheriff's deputy doing screening at the county courthouse said, when I asked about the scenario above, that even a license holder could be subject to immediate arrest just for entering the main doors of the building while armed. He didn't accept my argument that the law in Georgia provides for a right to withdraw or retreat and take the gun out of the building without having committed a crime.

    What say y'all?

    Does anybody have any experience about this?

    Has anybody asked any of the deputies or guards at your local government buildings about a right to withdraw or a right to retreat of you and your weapon are not allowed to pass through the checkpoint still armed?

    *************************

    Quotes from Code section 16-11-127, the law about most off-limits locations (schools and airports have their own Code sections, however):

    ...this Code section shall not apply:

    (1) To the use of weapons or long guns as exhibits...

    (2) To a license holder who approaches security or management personnel upon arrival at a location described in subsection (b) of this Code section and notifies such security or management personnel of the presence of the weapon or long gun and explicitly follows the security or management personnel's direction for removing, securing, storing, or temporarily surrendering such weapon or long gun; and

    (3) To a weapon ... by a license holder ... in a motor vehicle ... parked in a parking facility.

    (e) (1) ... A license holder who enters or attempts to enter a government building carrying a weapon where ingress is restricted or screened by security personnel shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if at least one member of such security personnel is certified as a peace officer pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 35; provided, however, that a license holder who immediately exits such building or immediately leaves such location upon notification of his or her failure to clear security due to the carrying of a weapon shall not be guilty of violating this subsection or paragraph (1) of subsection (b) of this Code section. A person who is not a license holder and who attempts to enter a government building carrying a weapon shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

    [emphasis added]
     
  2. GoDores

    GoDores Like a Boss

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    For a "government building" as defined in 16-11-127, you're correct. The law explicitly provides a GWCL holder the option to leave immediately upon being told s/he has failed to clear screening.

    But a courthouse is defined separately from a "government building" in that section. The only "get-out-of-jail-free-card" that clearly applies to courthouses is the section in (d)(2) that applies to all off-limits locations, which is that if you approach security and ask them what to do with your weapon, and obey their directions, you're not breaking the law. That requires proactively identifying yourself to security or management as an armed GWCL holder, not just going through screening and waiting for someone to find your weapon.

    As I recall, the reason behind "courthouses" and "government buildings" being defined separately was that judges put up a fuss about wanting to be able to ban guns even if they didn't implement screening that would actually keep guns out. So they lobbied for courthouses to be extra-special places that could still ban guns even without security. Given that, I would presume the intent of the law would be that any exclusions or exemptions that applied to "government buildings" would not apply to "courthouses".

    The problem is that the definition of "government buildings" also generally describes courthouses, and doesn't specifically exclude them. So a plain reading of the law would also extend the (e)(1) exemption for "government buildings" to "courthouses" even if that wasn't the intent. But the case could be made that the separate definitions implicitly make "courthouses" not "government buildings", and the person who would decide that if you were arrested at the courthouse is a judge whose professional organization lobbied for the "extra" ban in the first place. You can roll those dice if you want, but they're weighted pretty heavily against you.
     

  3. awanatech

    awanatech Active Member

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    I agree with GoDores. For regular "government buildings", you should be allowed to leave the building if your firearm is detected at a security checkpoint. At courthouses, they are off limits and not subject to the same security screening procedure as regular government buildings. With or without signs or screening, courthouses are off limits.
     
  4. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with GoDores as well. Unless you brought the weapon to the attention of the deputies, you cannot take advantage of subsection (d)(2). Subsection (e)(1) by its own terms applies to government buildings but says nothing about courthouses. They have different definitions in subsection (a).
     
  5. GAfirearmsReference

    GAfirearmsReference Weapons Law Booklet

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    That makes sense.
    But the Deputy is wrong for asserting that an arrestable offense is complete as soon as you walk into the building, regardless of how he may learn about the gun.

    The circumstances of HOW the gun is revealed MATTERS, and it's different for courthouses, regular govt buildings and maybe airports .
     
  6. DonT

    DonT Deplorable bitter clinger.

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    This is quite interesting. I think there is a widely held belief that there is an automatic right of retreat from a courthouse, under this statute, just like there is for a government building, if carrying under GWCL and one has failed to pass the security check due to a firearm. I'll have to do some checking around here in Cobb County on this.

    I'm going to offer an opinion, that, just like many issues of this type, this is up to the discretion of the law enforcement securing the courthouse, and up to the discretion of a county DA as to prosecution.
     
  7. awanatech

    awanatech Active Member

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    A few years ago, maybe 6-7 years, we took our boys to visit the State Capitol. At that time, I rarely carried a firearm so I didn't give a security checkpoint any thought. As we walked in, the State Troopers had us empty pockets and wanded us. I had a small, folding pocket knife. It had an 1.5"-1.75" blade. I mentioned it before I even reached into my pocket. He had me remove it so he could see what I had. He told me that even carrying it through the front doors was against the law and that there was a zero tolerance for weapons inside the Capitol. It didn't matter whether I had gotten to the security checkpoint or not. He made sure to let me know that he was supposed to arrest me for even bringing it in, but that he would give me a chance to take it back to my car. I didn't ask any questions at the time and just took it back out.
     
  8. Wegahe

    Wegahe NRA Instructor

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    Last time I went I had a razor knife on me. They took it at the check point, tagged it with my name and put it in a drawer. I picked it up on my way out. No fuss no problems. This was more like 10 years ago or more.
     
  9. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Based on what law?

    (b) It shall be unlawful for any person, other than those persons who are exempt from the provisions of Code Sections 16-11-126 through 16-11-127.2, to enter, occupy, or remain within the state capitol building or any building housing committee offices, committee rooms, or offices of members, officials, or employees of the General Assembly or either house thereof while in the possession of any firearm; knife, as such term is defined in Code Section 16-11-125.1; explosive or incendiary device or compound; bludgeon; knuckles, whether made from metal, thermoplastic, wood, or other similar material; or any other dangerous or deadly weapon, instrument, or device.


    https://www.georgiapacking.org/GaCode/?title=16&chapter=11&section=34.1

    16-11-125.1 does not include your small folding pocket knife.
     
  10. moe mensale

    moe mensale Well-Known Member

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  11. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Site has not been updated in a while . . . feel free to post a link to the current statute if you can find it for free online somewhere.
     
  12. phantoms

    phantoms Senior Mumbler

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    Wasn't Courthouse singled out recently when Government Buildings language was changed? Before that it was included in the normal government buildings language and subject to the ask security what to do, correct?
     
  13. moe mensale

    moe mensale Well-Known Member

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    http://codes.findlaw.com/ga/title-16-crimes-and-offenses/ga-code-sect-16-11-125-1.html