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Corps of Engineers: No guns in parks, Lake Lanier Islands

POSTED: May 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
It seemed pretty straightforward at first.

On Wednesday, Gov. Perdue signed a law allowing Georgians who have concealed-carry permits to take their guns aboard public transportation, to state parks and to restaurants that serve alcohol.

But some media reports simply used the word "parks" without specifying which type, leading people to wonder exactly where the law will be applicable when it goes into effect on July 1.

"We’ve received some calls from both the media and from local residents wanting to know if their concealed-carry permits would be valid," said Lisa Coghlan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Lake Lanier and several other federal reservoirs in Georgia.

The answer: Guns are not allowed on any corps property, except when carried by a law enforcement officer or when being used by hunters during designated seasons.

The corps’ district office in Mobile, Ala., sent out a news release Thursday to clarify this policy.

But the issue is murkier than it initially appeared.

"You can carry a gun in (Georgia) state parks, but some state parks, such as Red Top Mountain on Lake Allatoona, are leased from the corps," said Mark Williams, chief ranger at the corps’ Buford Dam office on Lanier. "They are still federal property."

Williams added that Lake Lanier Islands, which is privately managed under a sublease agreement with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, also sits on land leased from the corps. So guns will not be allowed at the resort.

Coghlan said application of the law is based on who owns the property, not who leases it.

"Federal law trumps state law," she said.

Kim Hatcher, spokeswoman for the DNR’s division of state parks, said it may be difficult for visitors to grasp this concept.

"It’s going to be really confusing," she said. "Most people have no idea whether a park is owned by the city, county, state or a federal agency."

The corps, which had nothing to do with the Georgia gun law getting passed, will now have to adapt to the reality of it.

"We’re working with the DNR on solutions to resolve the confusion, such as providing more signage," Coghlan said.


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