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Mayor: We 'Have Not Proposed Any Gun Bans'

Snellville's Mayor Kelly Kautz clears up confusion on a work session agenda item regarding firearms in city parks.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the Snellville Patch’s article reporting on the June 11, 2012 Snellville City Council meeting specifically the work session agenda regarding firearms in Briscoe Park. I understand that there have been several questions asked since this article was published and would like to take an opportunity to try and clarify some of the confusion.

First and foremost, this was an agenda item on the mayor and council work session for discussion purposes only. No action has been proposed in the City of Snellville in relation to firearms. The cities of Gwinnett County have an alliance called the Gwinnett Municipal Association where we share information with fellow cities.

As mayor, I received an e-mail a few weeks ago about a firearm issue in a city park in another Gwinnett city. I was sent this courtesy e-mail in case our city encountered any similar issues. I placed the matter on the work session agenda to simply see if there was a consensus of council to direct our city attorney to provide us with further information. There was.

Our city attorney has been asked to review the existing state laws on having a firearm in the city park, Briscoe, and to review the incident of what happen in a corresponding Gwinnett city. The city attorney has been asked to report back to the council at our July 9 work session, so that the council can determine if this is a matter that needs to be addressed by the city. We, the mayor and council, have not proposed any gun bans in the city of Snellville or in Briscoe Park. As a result of this incident in a sister city we have just asked for more information.  

The existing firearms law in Georgia is ambiguous (O.C.G.A. 16-11-126). As an attorney I have had experience defending client’s rights to carry arms and have myself been confused with the current law. Any one in Georgia may carry a firearm on their person if they are on their own property, or inside their own home, motor vehicle or place of business. No carrying permit is required for this.

However, changes to this law that went into effect in 2011 allow a person to carry a firearm in certain locations including public parks as long as they have a carrying permit. Georgia law defines public parks as any land under control of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. As a city-owned park, Briscoe is not under the control of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and therefore may not fall within the state law definition of a public park.

Therefore, the question is can someone carry a weapon inside Briscoe Park and if they can do they need a carrying permit and in what manner can they carry it? These are the questions that we have asked our city attorney to review.

Having clarity on this issue will be beneficial to our citizens, our park staff and our police department. I do not believe that anyone on council is opposed to our Constitutional right to carry arms, but we as a city want to make sure that everyone including the government is clear on the law and that we do what is in the best interest of our citizens.

Thank you keeping all of our citizens informed.

Siege June 14, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Mayor, As a free, law abiding, tax paying citizen of Georgia and Gwinnett county, I ask that you please not waste my tax dollars going down an avenue that will lead only to a lawsuit the city is guaranteed to lose by pursuing lawyerly semantics debates (are you going to ask us what the definition of "is" is?) The law and the intent of the legislature is VERY clear, and you have wasted enough money researching this issue to begin with, when there are definitely better things that you could be doing than pursuing a failed anti-gun agenda. You make NO ONE safer by trying to ban or regulate firearms in city parks, BECAUSE CRIMINALS DO NOT OBEY LAWS. The statistics are clear for anyone to see, and the laws are equally unambiguous to anyone with a smattering of sense and reading comprehension.
Grant June 14, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Kelly... Please JUST STOP....You're embarrassing your self and , by association , the people of Snellville. There is no ambiguity in the law(s) , no " questions" that require answering Read this http://www.examiner.com/article/mayor-kautz-declares-georgia-law-on-firearms-parks-ambiguous and please get over yourself and move on .
Stewart June 14, 2012 at 06:29 PM
OMG it's Amazing! Our esteemed Mayor Lawyer Kautz has opened her mouth and yet again spewed a bunch of nonsense that reflects badly on her, as well as Snellville in general! One would think if you are defending your position in public, that you would at least do the diligence and be knowledgeable on the topic at hand. I certainly hope that Tony Powell is a much better lawyer than Mayor Kautz or Stuart Oberman, it this could cost Snellville a lot of money.
Sparky June 14, 2012 at 07:59 PM
"...we as a city want to make sure that everyone including the government is clear on the law..." Good Lord, preemption of firearms regulation has been around since 1999. This person is an attorney? "However, changes to this law that went into effect in 2011 " - WRONG! That was concerning State Parks, not city parks, back in May 2008. Nice attempt to deflect but you failed miserably.
D June 15, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Mayor Kautz, It is apparent that your zeal for this issue - whatever your motivation - is clouding your judgement and your ability to represent the interests of the residents of Snellville who elected you to do just that. Wasting even a minute of the city attorney's time researching this matter, a second of your own time defending your request to do so or a single dollar of the city's budget to pursue this course of action is a specious use of the city's resources. The law is clear. There is ample case law. Other counties and municipalities that have attempted to circumvent the law have suffered financial penalties and ridicule. On behalf of all of Snellville's citizens, I beseech you to stop tilting at this particular windmill. There are greater and more valuable applications for your talents and the city's resources.
Larry Grant June 15, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Really? Is there nothing more pressing in Snellville than this? And how is it possible that the mayor has a license to practice law when she finds "ambiguity" in the most concise, clearly written law ever passed in this state? Or, maybe it's because she cited the WRONG law in the first place? Another example of wasting valuable time, manpower and Snellville's money on frivolous and doomed personal misadventures!
Siege June 15, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Bravo, D, bravo! Bravissimo!
Phil Evans June 16, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Mayor Kautz is obviously trying to gain brownie points by catering to the irrational fears of her sheeple constituents. Good citizens openly carrying their firearms logically should make people feel safer, as it is a proven crime deterrent. Just how common is it for criminals to openly carry a holstered firearm? As a husband and father, it's my duty to keep myself and my family safe wherever we go, and that includes parks. There's nothing magical about parks that keeps criminals away. If criminals made appointments, I'd then know when I could leave my gun at home. But until then, to me, it is only prudent to be prepared at all times to deal with armed criminals when they choose to act. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. I've openly carried my firearm at several Gwinnett parks, with no negative reactions from anyone that I could observe. On the contrary, I've had friendly conversations with strangers, and have had children come up to me and ask me about my gun. No one panicked or ran away in fear. To me, that was very satisfying, as it told me they were convinced I was one of the good guys even though I did not have a badge. When I carry my firearm, it is not only to protect myself and family from harm, but to the best of my ability to protect my fellow citizens as well. It's not because I'm a cop wannabe, rather it's because of the Golden Rule. I'd want someone to come to my rescue if needed, and so I'm prepared to do the same for others.
Joy L. Woodson June 22, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Hello everyone! As this is a hot-button topic, just a reminder that comments are subject to our terms of use, which you can read here: http://snellville.patch.com/terms. This thread looks OK to me, so just an FYI! Gracias.

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