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Fighting terrorism and keeping Georgia safe
burns jon 2015
State Rep. Jon Burns

Given the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino and Chattanooga, I wanted to focus this week’s article on what we in the state legislature have done recently to protect Georgians from terrorism.

Protecting Georgians from terrorism

Senate Bill 416 establishes the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. This center will serve as a fusion center maintaining a terrorism analytical component. Development, maintenance, and operations of the center are vested in the director of the GBI.

This fusion center will gather intelligence reports from state and local agencies about suspected threats, both criminal and terroristic. It will then analyze this information and provide assessments to the director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA). In addition, the center will communicate with the FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other federal intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Membership of the Analysis Center consists of the Directors of the GBI and GEMA, the Commissioners of Public Safety, Natural Resources and Corrections, the State Fire Marshal, the Attorney General and the Adjutant General. Also included are local law enforcement, local fire services and local emergency management resources. I supported the passage of Senate Bill 416 in the House of Representatives.

Drones in Georgia

House Bill 779 regulates the use of drones in Georgia for the protection and benefit of all citizens. Under this bill, it is unlawful to sell, manufacture, possess, or operate an unmanned aerial vehicle that is equipped with a weapon except for military or governmental contracts involving research. The punishment for such conduct is a felony. Moreover, the bill provides that state law preempts any local law or ordinance unless such ordinance has been enacted prior to April 1.

House Bill 779 also provides for the creation of the Unmanned Aircraft Commission with the purpose of increasing the amount of industry located within Georgia regarding the manufacture, research, and development of unmanned aircraft. This commission will also identify policies that should be implemented regarding privacy, property rights, agricultural uses and public safety with regards to unmanned aircraft.

I supported the passage of House Bill 779 this session, and I commend Rep. Kevin Tanner for all of his hard work on this issue.

Preventing the crime of swatting

“Swatting” is the act of deceiving an emergency service into dispatching an emergency response on the false report of an ongoing incident. This deceitful practice has been used by criminals in Georgia and elsewhere in the United States for purposes of harassment, intimidation and domestic terrorism. It also diverts time and valuable emergency resources away from real emergencies.

This session, the House passed legislation that was included in SB 270 to combat the practice of swatting in Georgia. This bill establishes the penalties for swatting and conviction of a first offense constitutes a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. Conviction of a second offense constitutes a felony. However, if swatting occurs at or near a critical infrastructure site, the person committing this offense will be guilty of a felony even if such offense is their first.

As always, it is an honor to represent District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly. If I can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (, or engage on Facebook (

Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House Majority Leader.