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Georgia Bill Would Lead to Guns in Airports, Bars, Churches and Elementary Schools

Georgia Bill Would Lead to Guns in Airports, Bars, Churches and Elementary Schools

Written by Nicole Flatow

The Georgia House passed a bill Tuesday to allow guns in places of worship, bars, and government buildings without security checkpoints, and to even eliminate criminal charges for those who accidentally bring their guns to the airport or other secured buildings where guns are prohibited. The bill, a smorgasbord of new gun rights expansions that safety advocates say may amount to the most aggressive bill yet, also expands gun rights in both public K-12 schools and colleges, and even broadens the state’s expansive Stand Your Ground law.

Most of the bill’s provisions apply to anyone who has obtained a state concealed carry permit. While obtaining a permit requires a background check, it does not require any firearms training whatsoever. And another provision of the bill removes the misdemeanor offense of pointing a gun at someone from the list of crimes that bar access to such a permit. Advocates say this provision is particularly alarming for policing domestic violence incidents; currently, police can base a domestic violence gun confiscation on commission of this offense.

The state already has permissive gun laws that allow concealed carry in parks and public transportation. And the new bill seems to expand concealed carry to every conceivable place.

“It’s permeating through virtually every major public institution, virtually,” said Kathryn Grant, who heads the Georgia Gun Sense Coalition. “There aren’t any other spaces left.”

The bill, passed largely along party lines, pits the state’s particularly robust gun lobby against a bevy of residents who oppose particular provisions of the bill. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll in January found that 78 percent of Georgia’s registered voters opposed allowing guns on college campuses; 72 percent opposed allowing guns in churches; and 82 percent would require any gun owner who wanted to carry a weapon in public to first take a safety course.

While no polling was apparently conducted on those who support guns in bars, that provision is seeing some of the strongest opposition, given that alcohol frequently accompanies gun violence. A House bill passed last year that also would have allowed guns in bars and places of worship, but that bill never cleared the Senate. According to Washington State University Sociology Professor Jennifer Schwartz, “40% of male [homicide] offenders were drinking alcohol at the time“ and about one in three female offenders were also engaged in drinking.

Places of worship have the option of prohibiting guns, but to do so, they have to post signs throughout their property, and are left to police the issue. K-12 schools, likewise, have the option to give special permission for some faculty to carry guns. In the event they choose to do so, individual school boards are tasked with implementation outside their expertise, including establishing a list of approved firearms and ammunition, setting firearms training standards, and running their own background checks.

“It’s inappropriate responsibility for a teacher or a school employee,” Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America Georgia Chapter Leader Piyali Cole told ThinkProgress.

In airports, individuals with a valid concealed carry punishment would not be arrested for taking their guns through security clearance. TSA agents do not have authority to arrest, so when they stop someone with a gun, that person is typically referred to local law enforcement. At other major airports, local protocol is to arrest that person. But Georgia is home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, pegged the world’s busiest airport. Carrying guns to the airport is a particular problem at Hartsfield-Jackson, which already leads the nation in the number of guns confiscated.

The law would also roll back criminal penalties for gun offenses in several other contexts. On college campuses, carrying a gun would become a civil offense subject to a fine rather than arrest. And Stand Your Ground immunity, which allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense without a duty to retreat, would be extended to offenses committed on public transportation. The provision advanced in the House even as the state Senate considered a measure to repeal the notorious Stand Your Ground law altogether.

Other provisions allow those between the ages of 18 and 21 who have served in the military to obtain a concealed carry permit, and allow guns in any government building that does not require security clearance, including libraries, tax assessors, and other buildings that may not have invested in a robust security presence. The bill also authorizes lawsuits to enforce any attempt at local gun regulation, with legal fees to be paid by the state, over the objection of several local government associations who expect increased liability premiums.

Local advocates fighting the bill have been so overwhelmed by its scope that they have struggled to focus sufficient attention on any one provision.

Moms Demand Action’s Cole said one of their goals in lobbying the Senate is simply to “at least go through the bill in detail” to make sure lawmakers are aware of every provision on which they are voting.

“It is absolutely comprehensive and sweeping in its implications,” Georgia Gun Sense Coalition’s Grant told ThinkProgress.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Thinkstcok

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2:15AM PDT on May 5, 2014

Guns scare me to death. I am so glad I do NOT live in Georgia or Switzerland.

9:30AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014


9:05PM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

Pat- where did I say cops don't need licenses? I said "... ALL the above mentioned things require PERMITS! Like a cop requires a permit!" How is that unclear? Cops require permits. And thus far, so do ALL people under ALL proposals (& laws so far passed) allowing people to carry into bars, on college campuses (which includes ONLY students & faculty 21yrs & up- the only age one can apply for civilian permits), etc. And, when I asked "IS that mentioned here?" I was referring to the parts about people needing permits to carry in bars, churches, etc. Nowhere did I say a cop doesn't need a permit. However, you're wrong about qualifying frequently. Most don't have to qualify but once a year. And qualifying for regular cops is pretty easy- I can do it. Furthermore, most cops don't practice nearly as much as you think, which is why cops are not known to be the best of shots. And I mean no disrespect there. Lots of info online about police shoot-outs & ammo wasted vs ammo finding it's mark, as well as previous cops telling how easy it's getting to be to earn a gun & badge. This is in no way meant to put down cops in any way. Despite that they are under NO obligation to put themselves in ANY kind of harms way (much less life's risk) to help a citizen in need, many often do! For more info re firearm training, etc:

9:41PM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Why is it the mere mention of some sort of rules regarding gun ownership -- like making sure the wrong people can't get them or training should be required -- is met with paroxysms of outrage? Just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean you have an unrestricted right, not when your ignorance or carelessness can result in people, including children, dying.

Cops don't need licenses, Robby? No, they have to go through weeks (at least) of rigorous training and prove they know how to use their weapons instead. They also have to recertify with every handgun they use every few months and if they fail, they lose the gun(s) until they pass. It's all part of the same Amendment.

Even the Second Amendment calls for a 'trained' militia. Why worship the right to bear arms but ignore the trained part of it?

10:21AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Great for you US: more violence!!!

9:42AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Robby K.......well, it brought you here didn't it ranting about your guns.....not one of you gun toting Americans has said here that there MAY BE problems carrying guns into the places mentioned and you all have blinders as to the shootings that have occurred.....that doesn't seem to matter as long as YOU have what YOU want.....I guess it just makes you "one of the circus baboons"

2:20AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Sorry for typos- serious comp issues. The first part of my 2nd P is supposed to say:

"MOST never report gun-brandishings when shots aren't fired; b/c no one was hurt. Just the sight is often enough to stop such wanton attacks, thank God! But NOT ALWAYS. SO ALWAYS be trained &
ready for ANY outcome/situation. Don't take my words for it. I do not teach firearm instruction, nor do I possess the legal knowledge to advise ANYTHING about fireams, PERIOD, despite sev classes I've personally taken. I have my own personal interperetations, but my interpretations are just that- interpretations."

1:57AM PST on Mar 7, 2014

SO SICK of BS propaganda! Just the headlines remind me of anti-abortion roadside crap. Holding new-borns mere feet away w/cars doing >60mph, CO2, etc, despite being cleaner than EVER.

MOST never report gun-brandishings when shots aren'tfired b/c no one was hurt. Just the sight is often (NOT ALWAS SO ALWAS be tained)to stop such wanton attacks, thank God! We don't need medieval times where 'might makes right.' Just poetic justice when those type clowns go down via shapely lead paper weights, before hurting family, friends, or ANYONE! This propaganda leaves out more than anyone has the time or inclination to refute. But, that's the point! Get everyone riled up like a bunch of circus baboons. Bad day? Nothing to write about? "We can always start something w/the war on guns!" ALL the above mentioned things require PERMITS! Like a cop requires a permit! IS that mentioned here? But I guess we should just get rid of all guns- no citizens, milita, cops, etc. Sounds smart to me- LOFL!

3:56PM PST on Mar 2, 2014

You guys have to read this:

3:34PM PST on Mar 2, 2014

Yes David, Switzerland has low crime rates and lots of guns. And all those gun owners are well trained in the use of those guns. They can't just walk into a local gun store or go to a gun show and buy what they want. I think everybody who is qualified (passed a background check) should be able to own a gun, but I also think it's insane to believe that the right to do so also means the right not to be trained in both their use and in how to keep them safely out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them -- ie their kids or their neighbors kids. Even you can't deny there are far too many children killed every year by careless gun owners leaving their guns in unsafe places, fully loaded.

I'll also hazard a guess that women aren't killed nearly as often in Switzerland by gun wielding husbands or boyfriends.

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