published Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Georgia lawmakers seek to revisit school weapon policy

MARIETTA, Ga. — Cobb County lawmakers say it may be time to revise Georgia's zero-tolerance stance toward weapons at public schools after two students were arrested for storing knives in their cars.

An Allatoona High School senior was suspended for 10 days and faces felony charges after an assistant principal found a pocket knife in his center console. School officials had been searching for marijuana and didn't find any. A senior at Lassiter High School was also arrested earlier this month after police performing a random sweep found several fishing knives in a tackle box and a butterfly knife in a compartment on the teen's driver's side door.

Both were charged with carrying weapons in a school zone.

Carrying weapons in a school zone is a felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. The state law, which has been in place since 1981, has been updated several times in the past two decades.

Some lawmakers say it may be time to tweak the regulation yet again.

The Marietta Daily Journal reports state Reps. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, and Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, say the law lacks common sense, and proof that violators have any criminal intent.

"The public expects the same good common sense they use every day of their lives to apply to the laws of our state, and we as legislators seek nothing less," Setzler said. "We'll inspect the current state of the law, but our school leaders don't like it, our law enforcement doesn't like it, and we're finding out the citizens who understand the current state of the law certainly don't like it."

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