One version of gun bill would let felons claim 'stand your ground' status

Over the weekend, a New York Times editorial decried the continuing influence of the gun lobby in state capitols. In particular, the newspaper's editors seized on HB 875, now under consideration by the state Senate:

In Georgia, for instance, a pernicious bill approved by the House authorizes an array of dangerous laissez-faire gun provisions. One would allow convicted felons who kill someone with an illegally possessed gun to seek justification under the state’s Stand Your Ground law. A second would allow concealed guns on college campuses, despite the opposition of 78 percent of polled Georgians.

Last week, state lawmakers gave up on the campus-carry provision of HB 875. But allowing convicted felons to claim self-defense? Opponents of the bill point to this obscure passage contained in the original legislation:

Their focus is on the "or 3" that has been deleted above. The measure as written, in other words, would eliminate exceptions – adding to those who would be immune from prosecution in cases of self-defense. What/who does the deleted Part 3 apply to? Convicted felons, for one thing. Those who bring weapons onto nuclear facility gounds for another.

Updated: Just got back from the House clerk's office. HB 60, with the language of HB 875 attached, does in fact include the above language, which would appear to allow convicted felons to avoid prosecution for the use of deadly force by invoking Georgia's self-defense statutes.

But they are still not allowed to vote.


Five months ago today, the U.S. government reopened after a 16-day shutdown. Many Georgia lawmakers said they would forswear their paychecks during the impasse, but how many followed through?

Following an extensive Washington Post report on the matter, we followed up with the Georgia delegation, and here’s the breakdown:

-- Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville: Donated a total of $5,200 to three local charities — a home for the handicapped, a rape crisis center and a facility for disabled children.

-- Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta: Gave $5,936 to the Augusta Warrior Project for wounded members of the armed services.

-- Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta: Gave $5,049.76 back to the U.S. Treasury.

-- Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah: Donated between $7,500 and $8,000 to Christ Church Anglican, his home church. (His office would not say when the donation was made, so it could have come after reporters started asking if he’d followed through on his pledge.)

-- Another five lawmakers said they would forego pay during the shutdown and sent letters to the chief administrative officer of the U.S. House asking for their pay to be withheld until it was over.

This had no real effect, since members of Congress are paid monthly and the shutdown only lasted 16 days. The withholders were: Reps. Paul Broun, R-Athens; Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville; Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County; Austin Scott, R-Tifton; Tom Graves, R-Ranger.

Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, had indicated he would forego his pay, but he did not. Said his chief of staff, Michael Andel: “The office was open every day and he fought to open the government. Then, federal employees received back pay.”

The rest of the delegation never foreswore their paychecks.


State Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, nominated for a federal judgeship, is still taking heat from liberal groups. One aspect of the scrutiny is on his 2004 vote in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Georgia, and the statements that accompanied the vote.

Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, in a missive to the mailing list of NARAL Pro-Choice America registered his shock at the “anti-marriage equality” pick by the president, among other criticisms.

But Scott also voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that same year in the U.S. House, which fell short of the required two-thirds support.

Michael Andel, Scott’s chief of staff, pointed out that the congressman has since come around and declared his support for same-sex marriage, while Boggs has made no public indication that his views have changed on the issue.

A Fulton County Daily Report article last month quoted from Boggs’ application for a state appellate court seat, to which he was appointed in 2012 by Gov. Nathan Deal. Boggs expressed a “desire to ‘re-establish our courts as protectors of the Constitution, not partisan refuges for policy makers.” He also cited a requirement that any law clerk he hired should ‘share my conservative judicial philosophy.’”


Need a sign that tea party forces are still uneasy with the GOP establishment in Georgia?

Local tea party leader Debbie Dooley posted on Facebook that Gov. Nathan Deal "is hurting his chances" by opposing the so-called religious freedom bills that were scuttled this month. She later deleted the post, but not before several folks sent the text our way:

"Conservatives wouldn't have to vote for Jason Carter to hurt Gov. Deal. They could hurt by simply not voting for that office. People discounting Jason Carter's chances are fools."


At the state Capitol, a hearing on the proposed cities of Lakeside and Tucker will be conducted by the House Governmental Affairs Committee at 3:30 p.m. in Room 606 of the Legislative Office Building.

From an email blast by Mary Kay Woodworth of the Lakeside Alliance:

"We have arrived at a critical crossroads in the cityhood process.  You have a final opportunity to influence the elected officials who will decide whether you get a chance to vote on cityhood.  The Legislature will make a final decision this coming Monday.  You will not get another chance to make your voice heard.

"As we reported earlier this week, Rep. John Meadows, the powerful House Rules Committee chairman, successfully moved to table SB 270.  Now, only two legislative days remain for the Legislature to move forward on the bill as it passed the Senate or in the form of a proposed compromise.  If you do nothing, then you risk losing the ability to vote on cityhood.

 "Here is what you need to do.  Please contact all of the legislators listed at the bottom of this email, but especially Chairman Meadows to ask to exercise your right to vote…."

Only Republican lawmakers were listed.


While her GOP rivals duke it out, Michelle Nunn has been quietly raking in contributions from out-of-state Democratic heavyweights.

Donors attended fundraisers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle over the weekend to raise cash for Nunn and several other female Democratic Senate candidates.

We've already told you about the in-state fundraiser she's holding on March 20, just as the legislative session winds down, featuring Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Now comes word about another bash for Nunn is set for March 24 in the Windy City, where Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, is among the co-hosts.


The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that a funeral Mass will be held Wednesday at noon for Howard “Bo” Callaway at Christ the King Catholic Church in Pine Mountain, Ga. From the newspaper:

The former Republican congressman and Secretary of the Army died Saturday at age 86 at Spring Harbor Assisted Living in Columbus, nearly two years after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He was also well known for helping his parents, Cason and Virginia Hand Callaway, get Callaway Gardens in nearby Pine Mountain, Ga., up and running six decades ago.

A private interment will follow the Mass.

The family will receive friends from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the church.

In celebration of Callaway’s life, a memorial organ concert will be held Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel at Callaway Gardens.

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