“It’s something that should have been done and had to be done,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin.
The changes the council approved Wednesday made its policy adhere to the statewide gun law Gov. Nathan Deal signed April 23. The Safe Carry Protection Act went into effect July 1 and allows licensed gun holders to carry weapons inside bars, government buildings, places of worship and school board meetings.
Changes to the city code made it clear city employees cannot carry weapons while at work or on duty in a government building or car.
Employees can keep their firearms in their cars provided the weapon is concealed in a locked compartment or rack in their personal car and their car is parked in an unsecured parking lot. The parking deck beside City Hall is considered unsecured in the city’s code.
Tumlin said citizens are allowed to carry guns into any city government building, which includes his own office.
A provision of the state law allows government officials to regulate firearms in their buildings if they implement a screening process to search people as they enter the building. The screening process can be either a metal detector or an armed security guard.
A police officer attends every City Council meeting to monitor the meeting, and that will continue, said Officer David Baldwin, spokesman for the Marietta police.
“The officer we have assigned to council meetings will continue to monitor everyone who enters the council chamber and deal with any situations involving guns as they come up,” Baldwin said.
No one on the council suggested installing a screening process during discussions about the new gun regulations. Tumlin said the changes to the law didn’t change people’s right to carry a gun into City Hall because there was no screening process in place before the law passed.
“The law changed but not necessarily the world changed,” Tumlin said. “The bad guys already had guns before.”
Tumlin said everyone on the council agreed there would be no problem to allow gun holders with a permit to carry concealed weapons into City Hall. It was the Marietta police department’s suggestion the city did not need a screening process in place.
“To be considered a screening process in conformance with the new law, we would have to have and maintain metal detectors accompanied by an officer, and we have elected not to do that at this time,” Baldwin said.
Councilman Grif Chalfant pointed out it is against the law to demand to see someone’s weapon permit.
“This still doesn’t allow you to, if someone is coming in here packing, we can’t ask them if they have a license — the police chief or anybody can’t,” Chalfant said.
The law also makes it possible for a permit holder to carry a gun into a bar, the Georgia Municipal Association stated in a brief about the law given to city governments. Guns are not allowed in churches unless representatives of the church decide to allow them. They remain prohibited in courtrooms, according to the new law.
In contrast with Marietta’s decision, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the day the law went into effect he would implement screening processes in Atlanta government buildings.
Reed said in a statement July 1 he will block anyone carrying a firearm from entering a government building in Atlanta by means of either a metal detector or security guard, as the law provides.
Where you can carry a gun:
City recreation centers: Elizabeth Porter Center, Lawrence Street Recreation Center
City parks: A. L. Burruss Nature Park, Aviation Baseball/Softball Complex, Birney Street Park, Brown Park, City Club Marietta, Custer Park, Flournoy Park, Gantt Park, Glover Park, Gramling Street Park, Henry Park, Hill Park, Joe Mack Wilson Park, Lake Park, Laurel Park, Lewis Park, Merritt Park, Monarch Park, Tumlin Park at Hickory Hills, Victory Park, West Dixie Park, Whitaker Park, Wildwood Park, Woods Park