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Arbery’s Shooting About to Undermine Georgia’s Citizen's Arrest Law with New Bills in the House

While many believe the Arbery shooting had nothing to do with citizen’s arrest, the event is about to affect the safety of Georgians, especially gun owners after some suggested it could be invoked in the case. New changes introduced by HB 1213 and HB 1203 seek to introduce new restrictions when a citizen might conduct a citizen arrest or ... never.

The existing clause allows citizens to detain suspects when they attempt to flee after committing a known felon. The law is very clear that the arresting individual should know a felony has been committed.

HB 1213 has narrowed down even further, suggesting that a citizen’s arrest can only take place after a forcible felon against a person. The new suggestion ensures that citizen’s arrest will be out of the question in crimes involving property. The new provision means property owners will have to watch as criminals walk away with or destroy their property.

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Many homeowners have detained burglars at gunpoint until the police arrive and take the suspect away. If the new proposal passes, the only option will be to call the police and hope they arrive just in time before the criminal escapes.

On the contrary, HB 1203 seeks to repeal citizen’s arrest by ensuring that only law enforcement can detain felons. The article says:

“Article 4 of Chapter 4 of Title 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to 9 arrest by private persons, is repealed in its entirety.”

Under this provision, citizens would have to watch a suspect commit a felony against a person and allow them just to walk away.

The suggested changes would ensure that people have no power to stop criminals even if they entered their premises unless they did so forcefully or opened fire. The only option is to apply the Castle Doctrine, whose applicability is very limited to life-threatening situations.

Homeowners would be forced to use force and hope to defend their actions in court by invoking self-defense, which is a precarious option. Citizen’s arrest has been very helpful because criminals would always comply, knowing that whatever happened during the incident would be solely their fault. But under the new law, stopping a criminal would be a crime.


Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing universal background checks in our state, and if left unchecked, it will not be long until we see bills like this getting traction in Austin. Texas is embarrassingly ranked 29th for gun rights, and with the help of the political elites in Austin, we will surely rank among New York, California, and Illinois if left to their own devices. Please join our fight today, and help us restore Texas' place as the standard for the U.S.

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