ATLANTA, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia House voted to pass House Bill 479, which would make changes to the state’s citizen’s arrest statute.
The bill passed the House by a 173-0 vote on Monday, March 8. The change would remove the 1863 law that gives broad powers to ordinary citizens to make arrests.
The bill will now move to the Georgia Senate before potentially moving to Governor Brian Kemp’s desk to be signed into law.
The law entered the spotlight after Ahmaud Arbery’s death in Glynn County. The video of Arbery’s final moments has started a conversation about change in Georgia’s laws after two of the three men charged in Arbery’s death claim they were conducting a citizen’s arrest.
“Georgia has made a statement today that Georgia is the state that is too busy to hate. When you have Republicans, Democrats, black, white, men, and women, I’m very pleased with all the revisions that we’ve done. Now, Georgia is the first in the nation to repeal the citizen’s arrest law,” Rep. Carl Gilliard said.
Governor Kemp issued the following statement Monday after the bill passed the House:
“The unanimous passage of HB 479 by the Georgia House is an important step in our efforts to root out injustice in the Peach State, while also protecting the sacred right to defend oneself and others,” said Governor Kemp. “With broad, bipartisan support, our overhaul of the citizen’s arrest statute strikes a critical balance between protecting the lives and livelihoods of our families, our friends, and our neighbors, and preventing rogue vigilantism from threatening the security and God-given potential of all Georgians.
“This legislation is first and foremost about doing our part to leave behind a better Georgia for our children and grandchildren. I want to thank Representative Bert Reeves (R - Marietta), lead sponsor of HB 479, and every member of the House for doing what is right for the people of Georgia. I look forward to the bill’s passage in the Senate as we continue to work toward a safer, more just future for all who call the Peach State home.”