Georgia Chamber Announces Full Support of House Bill 479

Walt Farrell

Published February 19, 2021

Press Release

The Georgia Chamber announced its full support for House Bill 479 which would repeal the state’s current citizen’s arrest law from 1863. HB 479 was introduced by Governor Kemp and bipartisan leaders of the general assembly and supports the efforts begun last year with the passage of Hate Crimes legislation in Georgia.

Chris Clark, President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber, shared, “Our antiquated citizen’s arrest law was cited in the defense of Ahmaud Arbery’s senseless murder in 2020, and HB 479 takes a critical step toward ensuring that this law is no longer abused in such a manner. We are grateful to Governor Kemp and our state leaders for proactively continuing to address the prevalent inequalities in our legal system.”

Dean of the Georgia House and Retired Synovus Executive, Representative Calvin Smyre of Georgia’s 135th district and Administration Floor Leader, Representative Bert Reeves of Georgia’s 34th district are championing this bill in the House.

“I fully support HB 479 because our current laws are outdated and ripe for abuse by untrained citizens,” said Representative Calvin Smyre. “911 and other public safety network technologies have adapted to equip our citizens with ways to relay concerns and allow governing entities to take official action under Georgia law. Now is the time to remove this cloud over our state and build solid governance for a better future.”

Representative Bert Reeves added, “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the general assembly on this bipartisan bill to overhaul Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statute. This is a common sense move that should have been done long ago. While repealing the outdated law, this legislation simultaneously protects business owners, clarifies the authority of law enforcement officers, and does not infringe on citizens’ right to defend themselves or others from harm. This balanced approach achieves meaningful reform to prevent acts of vigilantism, while also keeping our communities safe.”

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