Tue., July 9, 2013 3:54pm (EDT)

What Should Be Allowed On Vanity Plates?
By Claire Simms
Updated: 1 year ago

ATLANTA  —  
The Georgia Department of Revenue held a public hearing Tuesday to get input on what rules the state should have for the content of personalized license plates.  (Photo by Claire Simms)
The Georgia Department of Revenue held a public hearing Tuesday to get input on what rules the state should have for the content of personalized license plates. (Photo by Claire Simms)
Only three people signed up to speak at a public hearing Tuesday on the state’s newly proposed personalized license plate rules.

The Georgia Department of Revenue hearing is a step officials must take before adopting the rules permanently. Most of the people who spoke were against the rule that would allow the state to ban any references to weapons.

“Guns are part of our heritage,” said Kurt Martin of Cumming. “Guns are part of our culture. Guns are part of what make Americans a free and independent people and to summarily announce that you’re going to try to wipe guns off of whatever little piece of the public realm that you can control is insulting.”

Martin and others argued that the rule would violate the First Amendment and thumb its nose at the Second Amendment.


Rory Danner, an Army veteran from Smyrna, found it offensive that guns were being “lumped in” the same category as illegal drugs. The rules would ban any references to weapons, drugs or alcohol on license plates.

Danner said the rules would also be difficult to enforce because state employees might not spot every reference.

“There are a lot of examples where I think people will be able to get by and get through with a lot of firearms or gun-related license plates that nobody would recognize unless you also share that interest and in addition to that, I can easily print a bumper sticker that’s much larger than a license plate anyway,” explained Danner. “So, I’m not really sure what we’re saving by not allowing these on a license plate.”

The state is currently operating under emergency rules as part of settling a lawsuit last month. Cyrus Gilbert sued the state after workers denied Gilbert’s requests to buy a license plate with the word “gay.” Gilbert now has a plate that reads, “GAYPWR.”

Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Revenue, Sean Casey, said the final license plate rules will comply with the settlement agreement and will take public feedback into account.

“We would like to accommodate everyone as much as we possibly can,” said Casey. “You can never please everybody.”

The state’s emergency rules will expire in September.