Georgia's governor signed legislation Wednesday expanding the state's gun rights and allowing Georgians to legally carry firearms in a wide range of new places.
"Today, I will put into law a gun bill that heralds self defense, personal liberties and public safety." (Via WXIA)
That was Gov. Nathan Deal before signing into law House Bill 60, known to supporters as the "Safe Carry Protection Act" and to opponents as the "Guns Everywhere Bill." WXIA reports the legislation changes state law to allow licensed gun owners to carry a gun into a bar and some government buildings without security measures. It also allows school districts and religious institutions to decide whether to allow guns inside their buildings.
Other effects include no criminal penalty for licensed gun owners who accidently bring their guns to an airport security checkpoint and a provision limiting law enforcement from detaining gun owners when looking into whether they have a carry license. (Via NBC)
The legislation has been two years in the making. Despite claims by Deal and gun rights supporters that the new law "heralds personal liberties and public safety," opponents of the measure said it does the exact opposite — endangering more Georgians than ever before.
"Organizers believe the state's public safety is in jeopardy with this new legislation. They quickly point to polls that indicate the majority of Georgians don't want guns in their schools, churches and bars." (Via WAGA)
According to USA Today, those opponents include law enforcement agencies, the group co-founded by Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis who was shot and killed in Florida. She called the legislation a "dangerous kill bill."
The paper cites 2011 numbers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which note gunfire killed 1,175 people in Georgia that year — 443 of those deaths are considered murders.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there was no doubt the bill would be signed into law, writing, "The powerful gun rights lobby has made it their top priority, and Deal [a Republican] doesn’t want to give his two GOP primary challengers any opening." Deal is expected to run for re-election in Georgia's gubernatorial race.
The AJC adds the new law, which goes into effect July 1, also legalizes silencers for hunting.