Perhaps because the General Assembly has been focused and working hard on the supplemental budget for the fiscal year ending 2012 and the “big budget” which will run from 2012 to 2013, it has not focused on many new laws or amendments to existing laws. However, some legislation which affects our region has started moving and has received a favorable vote in the Senate.
South Georgia, from the Alabama line to the coast, takes pride in the outdoor activities it has to offer, especially hunting and fishing. Two short bills passed the Senate dealing with both of these activities.
A hunting related law, SB 301, passed the Senate 48-5 on Jan. 31 and will now make its journey to the House of Representatives for consideration and possible approval. This bill would allow any firearm otherwise used in hunting or taking of game to be equipped with a silencer.
If the bill ultimately becomes law and later a hunter chooses to use a silencer, then he or she will need to be aware of conditions imposed or face losing their hunting license.
Utilization of the silencer to hunt may result in hunting privileges being suspended for three years if the silencer and gun are used on land without landowner permission; to hunt in an area that is closed for hunting; by hunting big game out of season or at night. One other restriction which cannot be overlooked is that the silencer cannot be used without registration.
The law in Georgia already requires registration of silencers for non-hunting activities because it falls under the mandate of a National Firearms Act. The new Senate bill will require hunters who utilize silencers to likewise comply with that act.
I often think of silencers being used on guns in movies about spies or “secret agents,” so soon we may have some hunters who will be like those secret agents when they are out hunting deer and other large game with silencers. Just don’t say, “Bond, James Bond.”
One of the shortest bills which passed the Senate is SB 307. This bill will allow for a one-day permit for salt water shore fishing licenses. If you have ever desired to join others fishing on the beach when you were visiting over on St. Simons Island but did not because you did not have an annual license, now you can get a license for one day and invest $5 for your recreational activity.
Michael Meyer von Bremen is an Albany attorney and partner with Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover. A former state senator, he represented the 12th Senate District, which includes Albany, for a decade. He writes a column periodically during the legislative session on issues facing the General Assembly.