Georgia prepares to make ‘swatting’ a felony after Christmas incidents

Numerous legislators and conservative personalities were victims of this prank, which consists of calling the police to a home, reporting a fake life-threatening situation.

Several Georgia legislators announced that they are preparing a law to make “swatting” a crime. During the Christmas holidays, numerous conservative politicians and personalities reported being victims of this prank. It involves an anonymous 911 call alerting the police of a fake life-threatening situation at a home, causing an emergency intervention of law enforcement at home, often involving SWAT teams, hence the name. Among those that have been affected in Georgia are U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones and state Senator Clint Dixon, who reported that his life could have been in danger as a result of one of these calls.

Putting lives at risk

Dixon is leading the initiative to place restrictions on this problem. In his case, it has happened twice, most recently on Tuesday, when only his mother was at home. It also happened on Christmas night, when, while saying goodbye to his family, he heard his wife screaming and ran to see what was happening. Meanwhile, his children, who were playing in another room, shouted that there were police officers running up the stairs of his porch.

In statements to Fox News, Clinton assured that things did not go further because he knew the officers and opened the door for them. After asking the officers why they had come to his house, they informed him that they had received an alert that a man had shot a woman and there was a hostage situation at their address. "Luckily for me and my family, we knew the officers. If we had not, and I had not answered the door the way I did, it could’ve turned deadly, or someone could’ve gotten seriously hurt." he noted.

Swatting currently a misdemeanor if it does not cause injury or death

For this reason, Clinton began to push a law that would make swatting a felony from the first offense. Right now, the first time someone commits swatting they can be charged with illegally requesting help from emergency services. It is classified as a "misdemeanor of a serious and aggravated nature," according to Georgia law, unless it interferes with "critical infrastructure." It then becomes a felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison, a fine of $100,000, or both.

In certain circumstances, such as if serious bodily injury or death occurs as a result of swatting, an additional penalty of one to 10 years in prison, a fine of $5,000, or both could be imposed. In addition, the judge can order the payment of compensation to the victims.

Seeking a bipartisan agreement

Dixon believes that these penalties are too soft in light of recent events. The senator said in a statement that it is not simply a partisan issue:

I plan to work with Senators from both sides of the aisle during the 2024 Legislative Session to introduce legislation strengthening penalties for false reporting and misuse of police forces. This issue goes beyond politics—it’s about public safety and preserving the integrity of our institutions. We will not stand for these threats of violence and intimidation. Those involved in swatting must be held accountable under the full extent of the law.

MTG wants to take the bill to the House of Representatives

Marjorie Taylor Greene, who reported that she was a victim of this type of incident on up to eight occasions, assured that she will take a similar proposal to the U.S. House of Representatives to end swatting nationwide. Among the initiatives that her proposal will include are call tracing to identify the criminal and stricter penalties.

Other victims of swatting

Swatting, however, is not a trend exclusive to Georgia. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his wife, as well as Republican Senator Rick Scott also reported being victims of one of these calls on New Year's Eve, although they were not at home. Journalist Jack Posobiec said he too experienced a dangerous situation as a result of swatting while he was with his family, and noted that the number of conservatives who had been victims of these dangerous pranks had skyrocketed throughout the country. However, in recent days, Democratic politicians such as Maine Secretary of State of Shenna Bellows, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and even left-wing businessman George Soros have reported receiving visits from law enforcement in their homes for a fake anonymous emergency call.