Now the practical consequences of gun law emerge

June 30, 2014 

Maybe the supporters of Georgia's new firearms law, the ones who resented it being called the "Guns Everywhere" bill, were right. It's not necessarily going to result in guns everywhere. It's just going to result in more taxpayer expense to keep guns from showing up everywhere.

Two Monday stories revealed some of the real-life ramifications of new Georgia laws that remove all kinds of restrictions on the carrying of firearms in public places. One is a classic fulfillment of the law of unintended consequences, the other a case of intentional consequences that might make you wonder about the sanity of the intenders.

The former, of course, refers to the expense Columbus and other local governments will incur as the result of screening visitors for firearms. The law specifies that persons with lawful carry permits must be allowed to bring their guns into government buildings such as the Columbus City Services Center unless all entrants are screened.

So the Columbus Consolidated Government is spending about $120,000 this year to put screening equipment at the main entrance, and will have to spend $84,000 of that annually (a figure that will almost certainly rise) to pay for two deputies who will be required to man that entrance full time.

"It's an unfunded mandate," said Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin, "but it's something that we needed to do."

The second of the aforementioned consequences is the requirement that police sell confiscated guns instead of destroying them, a clause in the law that Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said amounts to little more than "putting guns back on the streets."

Police cannot sell the guns to private individuals, but only to licensed firearms dealers. Still, many of those guns will almost certainly be used in crimes sooner or later.

Together, these two components of House Bill 60 might make one wonder what Georgia lawmakers were thinking.

The suspicion here is that "thinking," in the reflective, analytic sense of that word, never entered into it, never got anywhere near it. Georgia's new gun law is an expensive and breathtakingly irresponsible act of political backlash theater that its enablers supported for the worst reason there is: They were knee-knocking scared not to.

It's entirely possible, if not probable, that not one single lawmaker who voted for this bill -- not one -- sincerely believes that allowing more guns in churches and bars and schools and government buildings serves any legitimate constitutional or practical purpose, or that the net effect of this law will be to make Georgia safer.

As for the "unfunded mandate" effect on Columbus and other local governments, you have to wonder: If lawmakers had thought through all the ramifications of this law, would it have made the slightest difference? The weight of the evidence suggests it would have made none whatever.

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