EDITORIAL: On Gov. Deal can prevent Georgia from going to the extreme

March 30, 2014 

The National Rifle Association has finally achieved its holy grail in Georgia. House Bill 60 covers a wide swath, leaving almost no stone uncovered as to who can get a gun carry permit and where a person with a license can carry his or her weapon. We are Second Amendment advocates, but House Bill 60 goes far beyond that amendment’s meaning.

For example:

• Silencers are allowed when hunting on private property.

• Those with a history of mental health, alcohol or drug issues can still acquire a carry permit. So can those convicted of pointing or aiming a weapon at someone. Convicted felons can evoke the “stand your ground” law in the event of a killing, and there is no training requirement to obtain a weapons carry permit.

• Employees can carry weapons in their personal vehicles on property owned and controlled by employers, including school grounds.

• Weapons are allowed to be carried in government buildings where access is not restricted or screened by certified security personnel (i.e., board of elections, Department of Driver Services, government centers and county commission/city council/school board meetings).

• Schools, colleges, technical schools, both public and private, can authorize employees -- teachers, principals, janitors -- to carry weapons.

• A multi-jurisdictional database containing information on those with carry permits cannot be created.

• Licensed carriers are permitted to have weapons in nonrestricted airport areas. If they carry a weapon into a screening area, no arrest can be made if they leave immediately, nor can law enforcement detain them to determine if they have a permit.

• Licensed carriers are permitted to carry their weapons in church, subject to the church’s approval.

• Municipalities can require “heads of households” to own a weapon but cannot regulate any other aspect concerning weapons.

Americans for Responsible Solutions, founded by Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot at an event in her district in Arizona in 2011 where six others were killed, called Georgia’s new gun law, “the most extreme gun bill in America.”

There is one chance remaining that could prevent Georgia from devolving into a morass where everyone is packing because everyone is packing. The bill sits on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk awaiting his signature.

While he would attract the wrath of the NRA, does he have the courage, in an election year, to kick the bill to the curb? There are many valid reasons for doing so, from the lack of a training requirement to the danger to law enforcement this bill fosters to liability issues the bill passes along to school systems if they allow personnel to carry weapons. We can only hope.

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