New Georgia Gun Bill Aims to Loosen Restrictions for Gun Owners

The Georgia House of Representatives on March 27 passed House Bill 60—what is coming to be known as the “guns everywhere” bill. The new legislation allows people to carry guns in bars, schools, restaurants, and airports. It also allows people to carry guns in churches, as long as church leadership allows it. The bill does not allow guns in a few select places, primarily college campuses and state office buildings. The bill also allows for felons to claim the “stand your ground” defense, which allows people to use deadly force when threatened without any requirement to evade or try and escape from the situation. Here is a rundown of some of the other facets of the new bill:

  • If an individual is carrying a firearm in public, police officers cannot ask to see a carry permit.
  • The state cannot compile a list of individuals with valid open carry permits.
  • People with open carry permits can bring their firearms to the airport, as long as they do not enter restricted areas.
  •  Only the state General Assembly can create gun store and gun show regulations.
  • Carrying a firearm on a college campus would become a civil offense with a fine as opposed to a criminal charge warranting arrest.
  • A conviction of a misdemeanor charge of pointing or aiming a gun at someone will not prohibit an individual from purchasing a gun in the future.

Gun control laws have been the subject of many debates since the shooting in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, and many other states have introduced legislation focused on reforming current gun laws in the 12 months after the shooting. According to data collected by The New York Times, legislators across the country have introduced 1,500 state gun bills since the Newtown incident and 109 bills have become law. Of the 109 bills passed, 39 tighten gun restrictions while 70 loosen gun restrictions.

House Bill 60, which passed in both the Georgia House and Senate after the Senate added amendments allowing for hunting with a silencer or a suppressor and banning guns in churches unless the governing body of the church grants permission, is still awaiting action by Gov. Nathan Deal, who is expected to sign the legislation into law.