On Tuesday, July 1, about 60 new state laws will go into effect. Everything from erecting a monument to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (HB 1080) to requiring food stamp recipients to take drug tests (HB 772) will become law.
However, what may be the most controversial law, HB 60, the “Safe Protection Act” has drawn large followings both, for and against it. HB 60, which changes the laws on when and where someone can carry firearms.
“You’ll have people in bars, churches, areas of the airport at your son’s little league baseball game, strapped with guns. I’m disappointed with this law because it caused us to expand the freedoms of gun laws but there are no provisions that require additional training or safety requirements to go with the expanded freedoms,” said State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-88). “This law could lead to some real disasters in the near future. Studies show that people with firearms in their home, are more likely to have a tragedy within the family.”
The new law allows licensed gun owners in Georgia and visitors from 28 other states to bring a gun into a bar without restrictions and carry a firearm into some government buildings that don't have security measures. It also allows school districts to decide whether they want some employees to carry a firearm and religious leaders to decide whether to allow licensed gun owners to bring their gun to houses of worship.
State Rep. Democrat Dee Dawkins-Haigler says the gun bill is comprehensive and dangerous.
“The law has passed. Now, it’s about education. We (The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus) are going to hold town halls across the state to help constituents know and get a better understanding of their rights. Rep. Billy Mitchell has led the way by hosting the first one last week. This bill has made churches take official positions in regards to carrying weapons inside their place of worship. That’s something churches never should have had to worry about,” said Haigler (D-93), who is also a pastor. “Yes, bars and churches have the right to opt in or out, but places such as a recreation center has no rights, for instance, if a person wants to carry a rifle to a game where children are playing. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Gov. Nathan Deal released a statement saing that he was pleased to sign the bill into law in April.
“Our state has some of the best protections for gun owners in the United States. And today we strengthen those rights protected by our nation’s most revered founding document,” Deal stated.
Supporters of the law such as GeorgiaCarry.org say this law could go down in history as the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent history.
“The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights doesn't just apply in certain locations or to special people favored by the government. The right of the people to keep and bear arms applies everywhere and to all of us without qualification Executive Director Jerry Henry said in a statement. “This bill will restore our right to carry and allows you to protect yourself anywhere you go.”
State Rep. Rick Jasperse, the bill’s sponsor, says the new policy will be helpful to citizens who obey the law.
“Gun-free zones only impact law-abiding citizens because criminals disregard laws anyway. This law is about stressing the importance of property rights and loosening firearm restrictions for law-abiding citizens,” said Jasperse (D-11). “By moving this law, we get government out of churches’ business. These churches and bars get to decide what their policy is and do what they choose to enforce it. It’s private property.”