New gun law does not pertain to many campsites

by: Diana Davis Updated:

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BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. - Georgia's new gun law goes into effect July 1 and it is already causing some confusion in Georgia campgrounds.
 

Channel 2's Diana Davis found that local park rangers have had to ask some campers carrying firearms to leave.
 
The campgrounds around Allatoona Lake are expected to be jammed this coming Memorial Day weekend.
 
Park Rangers told Davis some campers are confused about Georgia’s new, more permissive gun law.
 
“Our rules and regulations stay the same which prohibit guns on federal property,” Ranger Rusty Simmons told Davis.
 
Starting July 1, guns may be allowed in some bars and churches but the new state law does not apply to federal Army Corps of Engineer land including campsites in and around Allatoona Lake and Lake Lanier.
 
“Some people think that if you have the state permit to carry weapons, you're covered. And some people do not realize that they are on federal property,” Simmons added
 
If you're caught with a gun you can get a citation, be ordered to go to federal court and even go to jail.
 
There are "no firearms" rules posted at campsites and on the handouts campers get when they drive into the park. But the print is tiny and difficult to see.
 
That’s why the Army Corps of Engineers is working on making new larger signs that will be easy to spot.
 
All the campers Davis talked to Monday told her they own handguns and were a bit confused about the new state law and how it might apply to federal land.
 
“I did not totally understand it, I’ll be honest,” camper Rennee Bradley told Davis.
 
Each one of the campers also told Davis they've never considered bringing a firearm with them to the lake.
 
“I just know better. It’s a family park. You wouldn't bring your guns to a family park,” said Carl Phillips.
      
“I worry about people drinking and you know getting a little crazy and there are lots of kids here,” Kathy Valenziano said.
 
The no firearms rule applies not just to campgrounds on lakes Lanier and Allatoona.
 
Many county, city and even state parks that lease federal land do not allow guns either. That includes Red Mountain State Park.
 
“People do not understand that this is federal property,” says Ranger Linda Hartsfield.
 
Rangers said they don’t want to spoil anyone's good time. But the law is clear. If you have a gun, leave it at home.