Student with permit suspended for carrying gun in parking lot - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Student with permit suspended for carrying gun in parking lot

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Georgia's ground-breaking gun laws take effect on Tuesday, July 1, decreasing the number of places where firearms are prohibited to a historic level. But one place where the laws for ordinary citizens hasn't changed is at schools.  One Columbus student is learning about the strict laws governing school safety zones the hard way.

Felissa Grissett is licensed with a concealed carry permit, and when she goes to class at Rivertown School of Beauty in Columbus, she normally keeps her gun inside her car. But things got complicated when her car broke down in the school parking lot. She didn't want the car to go to a mechanic with the gun still inside, but she is forbidden from taking it out in a school safety zone. She didn't know what to do.

"When I had to get my vehicle towed, I took all my personal items out, including my weapon, and put it in another vehicle that I was riding home in." said Grissett.

Video from a nearby store's security camera showed Grissett walking through the parking lot with the gun and putting it in her friend's car. Other students saw her carrying the gun and they notified school administrators who gave her a forty-five day suspension.

Linda Barton, from Rivertown School of Beauty says, "She could have possibly carried it from one car to another in a non-conspicuous way that didn't just let everybody see that she had it out there."

If someone called police, this simple act could have ended with Grissett in handcuffs. The school says the suspension was a compromise compared to that.

"This is because I didn't cover up the weapon.  So on Monday, I had an official appeal hearing and same thing- I was told I should cover the weapon up." says Grissett.

Rivertown's policy clearly states: "…If you legally possess a firearm in your vehicle, please do not remove it from your vehicle while on campus." School administrators suggested covering it up because of the unusual circumstance of the car breaking down, but obeying the letter of the law, a gun-in-hand outside a school -covered or not- is still illegal.

"It's for the safety and protection of all of our students." says Barton, "If we allowed them to bring any type of weapon -and we did put it on the door, as far as 'no weapons allowed on the premises,' and they signed a policy- then we're not taking care of our students and their education."

Grissett says she's unhappy with the decision and she maintains that she doesn't deserve any punishment at all.

The finer points of the new law's wording have been debated by gun advocates, but when it takes effect on July 1, the rules regarding guns at school will remain the same. Even with a permit, the gun can't leave the car in a school safety zone.

Due to the unusual circumstance of this particular school being located in a shopping mall, that means regular customers of other businesses sharing the same parking lot may be subject to the very strict gun laws that apply to school safety zones.

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