Ga. governor signs sweeping gun rights bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed sweeping gun legislation on Wednesday that some have described as unprecedented. 

Licensed gun owners will be able to carry their firearms into public places including bars, schools, churches and government buildings, among other areas.

The NRA called House Bill 60, The Safe Carry Protection Act, “the most comprehensive pro-gun bill in state history.”

Georgia’s legislature passed it at the end of this year’s session, and Deal told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it had support from both Republicans and Democrats.

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“There are always opportunities for people to use any piece of legislation as a political tool if they don’t like it. But there was bipartisan support for the bill,” he said. 

State Sen. Jason Carter (D), grandson of former President Jimmy Carter and his party’s gubernatorial nominee, voted for the bill and told MSNBC last week he believes he helped “make the bill better than it was when it first started.”

Two proposals that did not make it into the bill include a provision that would have legalized the carrying of guns on college campuses, and one that would have required houses of worship to allow guns unless leaders ban them.

Deal tried to downplay the effect the bill will have on Georgia and dismissed its critics.

“The important premise we all should remember is these are people who have their fingerprints taken, their backgrounds checked, and they have been licensed to carry a weapon," he said. "They’ve been subjected to scrutiny of the state.” 

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun control group started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), tried to block the measure. 

Pia Carusone, a senior adviser for the group, said the legislation will “take Georgia out of the mainstream.”

Carusone said the law will allow guns in TSA lines at the country’s busiest airport in Atlanta. It will also force school boards to debate whether to allow guns in classrooms, she added. 

“So it is no surprise that, while being trumpeted by the NRA as the ‘most comprehensive’ gun bill in state history," Georgia law enforcement, county commissioners, municipal leaders, and the Transportation Security Administration opposed the bill, she said.

The law will take effect on July 1. 

 

This post was updated at 12:45 p.m.