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Georgia Governor signs expanded gun carry legislation

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Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal signed an expanded pro-second amendment gun law, State House Bill 60, the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 on Wednesday that essentially allows gun owners with concealed permits to carry in more places such as bars, schools, churches, and government buildings, among other areas.

The bill had bi-partisan support and is considered the most expansive allowed to carry in more places than in any other state and the law will take effect on July 1, 2014. The legislation passed in the Georgia Senate by a 37-18 vote on March 18, 2014 and in the Georgia State House of Representatives by a 112-58 vote on March 20, 2014.

The new provisions include removing fingerprinting for renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses (WCL), prohibit the state from creating and maintaining a database of WCL holders, and create an absolute defense for the legal use of deadly force in the face of a violent attack.

Other provisions in the bill include lowering the age to obtain a concealed WCL for self-defense from 21 to 18 for active duty military with specific training, prohibits a ban on firearms in public housing, ensuring that the right to self-defense should not be infringed based on where one calls home.

The bill also includes codifying the ability to legally carry, with a WCL, in sterile/non-secure areas of airports, protects the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding gun owners from being restricted or infringed by executive authority under a declared state of emergency.

Furthermore, the bill strengthens current firearms preemption statutes through further clarification of the regulatory authority of local governments, excluding firearm discharge ordinances.

When it comes to bars and churches, the bill removes restrictions on legally carrying a firearm with a WCL in bars, leaving this decision to private property owners and allows for churches to opt-in for legal carry with only a civil penalty of a $100 if a person happens to carry into a prohibited church unknowingly.

One provision that did not survive was allowing college students who possess a firearm license to be able to carry on college and university campus's.

Nevertheless, many anti-gun groups have been attempting to halt or ban firearms for the past couple of years and one such group, the gun control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), sought to block the Georgia measure from passing.

Pia Carusone, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions commented back in March 2014, “The bill is extremism in action; it moves Georgia out of the mainstream. Since the Georgia House first passed this expansive legislation, thousands of Georgians and tens of thousands of Americans have said loud and clear that they are tired of the gun lobby advancing its extreme agenda at the expense of their families’ safety. Georgians oppose the bill’s extreme provisions, and now their elected officials are hearing about it every day. We hope they don’t send the bill to Governor Deal while their constituents sleep.”

However, in answering his critics, Governor Deal said, “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. The main story that should come out of it is the final product is significantly different from earlier versions. And some of the more interesting parts were removed.”

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