Tuesday the Georgia House listened to arguments on the Safe Carry Protection Act for over two hours and passed the measure by a margin of 2:1.The pro-gun bill would allow increased concealed carry across the state, including in schools by teachers, protect gun owners from illegal seizure of their guns during times of emergency, and over all change several facets of the existing gun laws in the state.
The bill, HB 875, also known as the /www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20132014/HB/875""">Safe Carry Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Rick Jasperse and sailed through the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee before being debated and voted on by the assembled house this week.
After debate, it passed by a tremendous victory of /www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/vote.aspx?VoteID=11444""">119-56, with just 5 members not voting or excused. So in other words, two out of every three Georgia lawmakers
agree that it makes sense.
(Although the bill was mainly centered on concealed carry issues in the state, some of its facets effect all gun owners and hunters)
Some did vocally oppose the bill however. According to the AP, State Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat, /members.jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2014-02-18/story/house-approves-bill-allow-guns-churches-bars-and-more-government""">criticized the bill as a Republican attempt to excite the party's voting base ahead of this year's elections. He said the state government should pay for more police officers if it seeks to better secure schools.
"Call this bill what it is: This is a voter mobilization bill. It ain't got nothing to do with gun control," Williams said. "... Y'all, you're going raise more money than we're gonna raise anyhow. Why do you want to pile on? C'mon."
The list of changes, /www.nraila.org/legislation/state-legislation/2014/2/georgia-update-on-pro-gun-activity-in-atlanta.aspx""">courtesy of the NRA-ILA is sweeping :
- Removal of fingerprinting for renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses (WCL).
- Prohibiting the state from creating and maintaining a database of WCL holders.
- Creation of an absolute defense for the legal use of deadly force in the face of a violent attack.
- Removal of the sweeping restrictions on legally carrying a firearm with a WCL in churches and bars, leaving this decision to private property owners.
- Lowering the age to obtain a concealed WCL for self-defense from 21 to 18 for active duty military, with specific training.
- Repealing the unnecessary and duplicative state-required license for a firearms dealer, instead requiring only a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
- Prohibiting a ban on firearms in public housing, ensuring that the right to self-defense should not be infringed based on where one calls home.
- Codifying the ability to legally carry, with a WCL, in sterile/non-secure areas of airports.
- Stating that under a declared state of emergency, all law-abiding gun owners will not have their Second Amendment rights restricted or infringed by executive authority through Emergency Powers protection.
- Strengthening current firearms preemption statutes through further clarification of the regulatory authority of local governments, excluding firearm discharge ordinances.
- Allowing school systems to decide whether staff and faculty may carry a firearm on school property, pending approved training, similar to the NRA's National School Shield program.
- Allowing the lawful carry by WCL holders in government buildings where it is not currently restricted or security screening personnel are posted during regular business hours.
(Among several of the impacts of the new bill, should it become law, would be that GA gun stores will not have to carry both a Federal FFL and a state license)
We would like to thank Representatives Rick Jasperse (R-11), John Meadows (R-5), Alan Powell (R-32), Mandi Ballinger (R-23), Dustin Hightower (R-68) and Jay Roberts (R-155) for their hard work championing this bill, in addition to all of those members of the Georgia House of Representatives who voted for HB 875, getting this bill one step closer to passage and enactment this year.
Also remember to reach out to your state senator about this legislation, as its headed from the House now to the Senate for a vote there.
Stay safe, Georgia.