Back in February, we found an article on Examiner.com, written by our own Councilman Dave Emanuel. We published a link to that article, but we recently learned that The Examiner site has been discontinued. Fortunately we saved the article and so we have reposted below. The bill in question (HB 731) is old news, however, the fact that six legislators sponsored a bill that would clearly violate both state and federal Constitutions should be a point of concern that is timeless.
Georgia residents are fortunate in that the majority of members of the state legislature understand, and seek to protect Constitutional rights. Yet, during the 2016 legislative session, that didn’t prevent six Democrat legislators from recently sponsoring a bill that would trample a variety of those rights. Although anything is possible, it’s difficult to believe this bill arose from ignorance of Constitutional amendments as at least one sponsor is an attorney. Yet if the bill wasn’t founded in ignorance, it sprang from a blatant disregard of the United States Constitution.
Officially known as House Bill (HB) 731, this legislation has all the earmarks of election year pandering to a liberal constituent base. Knowing that the Republican-controlled State House is in favor of protecting Constitutional rights, the bill’s sponsors had to be aware that their bill was, for all intents and purposes, dead on arrival. In an attempt to find out, and to satisfy my curiosity about the thought process behind HB 731, I sent the e-mail below to Dar’Shun Kendrick, one of the bill’s sponsors and State House District 93 representative.
As a member of the Snellville City Council, I’m well aware that any ordinances passed by the city must not violate state or federal constitutional rights. As a state representative and an attorney, I would think you’d be even more sensitive to bills that would potentially violate Constitutional rights. That’s apparently not the case as your sponsorship of HB 731 illustrates. I find the phrase in the bill’s description, “to designate certain weaponry and ammunition as contraband and to require seizure of such by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation;” to be troubling, yet it pales in comparison to;
170(a) Any person who possesses a large capacity magazine on or after January 1, 2017, that was obtained by such person prior to July 1, 2016, shall be fined not more than $100.00 for a first offense and shall be guilty of a felony for any subsequent offense.
173(b) Any person who possesses a large capacity magazine on or after January 1, 2017, that was obtained by such person on or after July 1, 2016, shall be guilty of a felony.
I’m sure your argument would be that although the 2nd Amendment states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”, this provision does not apply to assault-style weapons. However, I’m wondering how you rationalize HB 731’s proposed violation of the 4th Amendment which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,”.
As I read through your proposed bill, Constitutional violations progress from bad to worse– section 16-11-117 requires owners of assault-style weapons to render them inoperative or surrender them.
But perhaps the winner of the Constitutional violation derby that is HB 731 is 16-11-123.1 “c) The presence of a machine gun in any room, boat, or vehicle shall be presumptive evidence of the possession or use of such machine gun by each person occupying such room, boat, or vehicle.”
This section of the bill presumes that any person in the vicinity of a machine gun, knows that the gun is present and knows that it is a machine gun. In essence, this section of your bill would make being ignorant a violation of state law.
As egregious as this bill is, its potential ramifications are more so. Aside from the precedent of sanctioning state violations of the Constitution, it would set the stage for turning law-abiding citizens into felons through designating as illegal, any item that the legislature deemed to be unfavorable.
Did any of these considerations occur to you when you sponsored this bill?
As might be expected, I am still waiting for a response.