Senate Bill 350 sets new rules for agencies disposing of guns that have been used in crimes, abandoned or are no longer needed.
It allows “municipal corporations” to put revenue from the sales into their general funds. In other cases, the money goes to the state.
“It looks to us like the law’s unclear when it comes to counties,” said Beth Brown of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. “We’re not considered a municipal corporation — that’s traditionally meant cities — and we’re not considered a state agency.”
Brown said the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association thinks counties will have to give up the funds; two attorneys offered conflicting interpretations; and the Georgia General Assembly’s legislative counsel couldn’t settle the issue.
“It did not specifically address what counties should do,” she said. “Our guidance to counties is to decide if they want to handle it the way they’ve been doing or to put the money in the state’s general fund.”
The Floyd County Commission is rushing through an auction of confiscated weapons before the new law takes effect. The money will be used to offset police operations.
Commission Chairman Irwin Bagwell said SB 350 continues a General Assembly trend of forcing mandates on local governments
while limiting their ability to raise revenue.
“They’re taking more money away from the counties,” he said.
Commissioner Garry Fricks noted that the board reminds state lawmakers every year to consider the local impact of proposed legislation.
“They’re chipping away at all the small things, under the radar, but it all adds up,” Fricks said.
SB 350 passed 115-54 in the House and 49-4 in the Senate. It was supported by all five of Floyd County’s delegates: state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, and state Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome; Barbara Massey Reece, D-Menlo; Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville; and Rick Crawford, D-Cedartown.
The measure states that the agency must first try to find the rightful owner of a confiscated gun, and return it if the owner is innocent.
Auctions — to licensed firearms dealers, collectors, importers or manufacturers — must be scheduled at least every six months if the agency has an inventory of forfeited guns.
Link to the Senate Bill 350 webpage