Georgia Legislature Passes “Guns Everywhere” Bill
Although its nickname cannot be taken literally, Georgia’s new “guns everywhere” legislation would allow residents to carry firearms throughout a large part of society: schools, churches, restaurants, airports and even bars.
HB 60, which cleared the legislature and is expected to be signed by Republican Governor Nathan Deal, represents a major victory for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and proponents of the Second Amendment.
It authorizes schools to appoint staff members to carry guns on campuses, and allows firearms in public areas of airports. It also decriminalizes the act of trying to carry a gun through airport security, which comes under federal authority.
Georgians will even be allowed to bring their guns into bars, as long as they don’t drink alcohol.
Concerns over this latter provision were on display just as lawmakers were approving the bill. That very same day, a fight broke out in Milo’s Bar in Marietta, an Atlanta suburb. The confrontation led to guns being drawn, shots fired and one bystander wounded.
“I don’t have any problems with people owning guns, but I do have a problem with guns and alcohol,” Melissa Swanson, owner of the Rail Pub in downtown Savannah, told The New York Times. “Everybody could be in here having a good time, but all you need is one bad drunk with a gun and it could be a bad situation.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Representative Rick Jasperse (R), said the inclusion of bars was important because it “is a private property issue.”
“We’re not going to decide what goes on inside a bar. Let the bar owner decide,” he told the Times.
Proponents of gun control were aghast by the legislation.
Americans for Responsible Solutions, founded by former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona), who was critically wounded in a 2011 mass shooting, dubbed HB 60 the “guns everywhere” legislation and characterized it as “the most extreme gun bill in America.”
The NRA praised it, saying it was “the most comprehensive pro-gun” bill in recent state history, and described its approval as “a historic victory for the Second Amendment.”
Another gun-control group, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said lawmakers “overreached” in voting for the measure.
Several polls reportedly showed a majority of Georgians opposed it, one by a majority of 70%.
Organizations and agencies opposing it included the state’s police chiefs association, the restaurant association, Episcopal and Catholic churches, and the Transportation Security Administration, which operates airport security checkpoints.
The bill’s passage demonstrated once again how successful the gun lobby has been in pushing its agenda, while claiming gun owners have been under attack by President Barack Obama and liberals.
Today, all 50 states allow people to carry firearms into certain public places, and 42 states have legalized assault rifles. Expanding the rights of gun owners appears to be the trend, with 21 states having passed such laws in the last year alone, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
In the year after the Newtown shootings, states passed 70 laws to weaken gun restrictions, and only 39 to tighten them.
There has been no major federal gun control law passed in a decade.
To Learn More:
Amid Wave of Pro-Gun Legislation, Georgia Proposes Sweeping Law (by Herbert Buchsbaum, New York Times)
Gun Law Specifics: Cops Can’t Stop Suspects for Unlawful Carrying (by Jim Galloway, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
HB 60 (Georgia General Assembly)
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