A string of homicides across Warner Robins last month prompted the mayor to openly consider a bold move: allowing city employees to carry firearms on the job.
But this week, Randy Toms said after talking with City Council members, he doesn’t believe there are enough votes to enact such a policy.
His initial statement came during a news conference about three slayings in the city, including two that happened during business holdups and another one involving a public works employee who was killed at home. Toms said the spate of violence prompted him to consider asking for a change in policy so employees could have firearms in government buildings and vehicles to protect themselves.
A man suspected in the three Warner Robins homicides was arrested on Jan. 24, a day after the news conference.
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“We talked about it and there’s not enough support for it,” Toms told The Telegraph. “I don’t stand off of my statements about our constitutional rights, but we certainly have the right to not allow city employees to carry weapons, so we’re going to stay firm on that ban right now.”
If Warner Robins or any other Middle Georgia officials decided to delve further into such a policy change, a small city in northeast Georgia could provide the template.
In 2014, Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Safe Carry Protection Act, which lifted restrictions on some of the places where guns could be carried. That included government buildings that did not have certain security measures, such as metal detectors.
Two years later, city officials in Demorest, located on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Habersham County, began letting its workers with concealed carry permits carry guns on the job.
Demorest Mayor Rick Austin said he decided to bring forth the policy change because people who did not work for the city could already bring firearms into public buildings. Demorest employees should have the same rights afforded through the 14th Amendment by providing them equal protection of the law, he said.
There have been some employees who now carry guns after the city ensures that they follow certain requirements.
"I think the city of Demorest was the first city in Georgia to allow this," he said. "It's my hope there will be others that take a hard look at the policy implementation."
Demorest leaders also consulted with the city attorney about whether the city could be held liable if an employee used the gun while on the job.
"We came to the conclusion that anyone that was exercising their personal rights, ... they would be held personally liable if they would be liable at all," Austin said. "It would not fall upon the city's shoulders."
About 1,300 miles to the west of Warner Robins, is Roswell, New Mexico, where it's city council voted in in October to let workers bring firearms on public property.
Also, Kansas legislators approved a bill in 2016 that would permit public workers to carry guns. The law eliminated local governments being able to restrict employees from having guns in certain public buildings, according to The Wichita Eagle.
Some Warner Robins council members have said the focus now should be on finding other ways to be proactive about preventing crime.
On Tuesday night, city leaders were on hand for the "Enough is Enough" forum that drew about 200 people for a discussion about crime.
Several hours later, a man was struck by glass after bullets were fired into a Warner Robins home.