Let’s move forward.
During a public safety meeting last week our city commissioners, nonprofits, police and even local businesses got together in the same room to discuss how to resolve issues with our homeless population.
First, let’s talk about that population. There are so many reasons to be homeless and there are different classifications for what is homeless depending on who is making the definition.
In our area there are approximately 400 people living without shelter. Take a step back and imagine that many people in the auditorium or a gym. That’s a lot of people and frankly, we can’t help that many people ... yet.
There were a lot of ideas bandied about in that meeting.
Mayor Bill Collins is forming a task force on the subject.
One leg up from when this same subject came to the forefront approximately a decade ago is we already have a plan. It might need some tweaking, but the framework is there — and many in that meeting seemed to put a lot of stock in that plan.
But it’s going to take time to get any plan going, and in the interim, police still have to know what to do when confronted with a person living without a home.
At this time, when enforcing littering or public drunk violations the only actual option is to arrest a person.
The purpose of a pretty reasonable ordinance — which at this point has been tabled — is to give the police the tools to deal with those unfortunate times when those without a place to stay infringe on public space.
The ordinance is a stopgap to deal with some of the issues they’ve been seeing — unsanitary conditions in the camps, people using public spaces as storage or bathrooms as well as coping with aggressive panhandling.
Those measures should be seen as stopgap while the overall issues are dealt with.
As a community it’s time to move forward and help this population.
Is any relief coming?
It’s been two months since a malware attack shut down the eCourt system. Many courts across the state — including our superior court, juvenile courts and magistrate courts have been offline since that time.
Without much relief coming from the state — it appears we’re on our own.
Since the cyberattack, our court clerks have been working to re-populate the old court software since the attack in addition to keeping our court system running.
That deserves some recognition.
For what it’s worth, as citizens we appreciate everything they’re doing.
Not everything needs to be out in public
There’s no question that people with a firearms license are allowed to openly carry firearms in public.
That statement is backed up by Georgia law, but stepping aside from any legalities we still have social norms. Not everyone adheres to social norms, and those norms vary from city to city and community to community.
It’s not surprising or out of the ordinary to see a uniformed law enforcement officer carrying a firearm — it’s expected. It’s not surprising to see a person making cash deliveries to banks carrying a firearm, again it’s expected.
If you were striding toward a saloon in the Old West, you might expect just any person wearing a ten-gallon hat and spurs to have a pistol strapped to their hip. It just makes sense. But when you’re at the playground at Ridge Ferry Park or walking down Broad Street, it’s a different ballgame.
The person standing there looking around with a holstered pistol may be a responsible gun owner and well within their rights, but still looks completely out of place.
It’s that step outside of our social norms that makes others feel uncomfortable and puts people on guard.
In any debate there is a middle ground, despite politicized feelings to the contrary.
There are many people who have their weapons license and carry a concealed firearm. They don’t present themselves as a target, nor do they flaunt their already law-encoded rights to carry a firearm.
A person is also well within their rights to have an expletive on a T-shirt or just wear boxer shorts in public instead of pants, much to the same effect. They look out of place. People wonder if they’re all there and become more cautious.
After a series of mass shootings around the country, people are even getting scared. Multiple businesses have asked people not to open carry while on their premises — that’s their right as well.
This past week, Walmart and Kroger have announced publicly that they will not allow people to open carry on their property.
That’s also covered under the law. A person who steps onto private property and is asked to leave — then refuses — is committing a crime called criminal trespass.
We can all decide our own stances on what role firearms will play in each of our lives.
When going out in public, if your intent is to prove you’ll stand up for your right to carry a firearm — it’s a point already proven. The law backs up that argument. However, at the same time proving your point at the expense of others doesn’t further your rights — it just makes people uncomfortable.