Richmond County to keep track of gun records in investigations

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 11:48 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has introduced has a new gun policy. Now, deputies will make a record of every gun they come in contact, with even if it’s legal.

People are concerned it’s acting as a gun database, and they don’t like the idea of the government taking inventory on what they own. But will it actually violate your second amendment rights?

It’s no surprise that a gun policy at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is raising eyebrows. It instructs deputies to make a record of every gun they come into contact with during a search, investigation, or call. It’s then compiled to an agency database.

“It helps us to have at our fingertips and to look at it to be able to use the data to help focus our efforts out there in the field,” Chief Patrick Clayton said.

Chief Clayton with RCSO wants the public to know that recording this information is nothing new. It’s actually standard operating procedure. The information deputies collect typically stays with a case file, but now they’re compiling it all in one place so it’s easier to access.

“If we were going out and we were approaching, for example, the open carriers on the street, we were approaching all the conceal weapons permit people, I could see where people would have an issue with it, we’re not doing that.,” Clayton said.

We also obtained internal emails between the sheriff’s office and then-District Attorney Natalie Paine. Those emails show Paine not only approved of the policy but wrote it was “a good idea.”

But social media is buzzing with people feeling like it’s an intrusion. A local attorney disagrees.

“In fact, if I had a firearm, and I do have firearms, I would like for them to be included in the sheriff’s department database because if they ever got stolen and are recovered someplace, it would be known that those are my shotguns or my rifles,” Attorney David Hudson of Augusta said.

He says in his opinion, the policy does not violate the second amendment rights at all.

“Some people may say, ‘well if there’s a record of these firearms, it will make it easier for them to be confiscated. If there’s ever a policy locally or statewide to confiscate firearms.’ Well, that policy or such a law would be unconstitutional and I have no fear that that would ever happen,” Hudson said.

So, for now, this tool to fight crime for the sheriff’s office says is here to stay.

The sheriff’s office does want to remind you this is only done within their normal duties-- and deputies will not be approaching concealed carriers just to make a record of their gun.

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