A coalition of mayors and an alliance of moms are urging state lawmakers to reject Georgia HB 875, also known as the “Safe Carry Act.”
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national bi-partisan coalition, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, say the bill will make communities unsafe—not safe as proposed.
The legislation, which passed the House on March 3, would expand the right for gun owners to carry their weapons to a number of public places including houses of worship, bars, government meetings, airport and even classrooms as teachers.
Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry is among those in opposition, saying that HB 875 is a dangerous bill that strengthens the controversial Stand Your Ground Law.
Said Terry: “What could this bill lead to? City Council members holding meetings in a glass box around them? Having armed guards face the people at budget meetings?”
“We know what is best for our city,” said Terry, who oversees 8,000 residents. “If this bill passes, they need to make revisions that would allow each city government to decide on the bill governing them or not.”
Terry says 12 Georgia mayors are in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Stone Mountain Mayor Patricia Wheeler are some of the members.
The bill was authored by Republicans Rep. Rick Jasperse of Jasper and Rep. Dustin Hightower of Carrollton. The legislation passed by a 119-56 vote in the House.
The legislation is headed for the Senate committee hearing. The Senate has until the end of March to make a final decision.
Meanwhile, the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, plans to testify at the conference Committee hearing on the bill. Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, plans to testify in opposition to the bill on Tuesday at the Georgia Capital. Jordan Davis is the 17-year-old who was shot to death at a convenience store parking lot by Michael Dunn, who complained the teen and his friends were playing loud music in their vehicle.
“This bill is focused on appeasing those who want to carry their guns anywhere at any time, with little regard for the safety of our community. This bill puts our children and families on the front lines of the gun violence epidemic in this country,” said Piyali Cole, who heads the Georgia chapter f Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “"As elected officials, these legislators are charged with creating laws that will protect our children and families; not to create laws that protect the profit of the gun lobby."
Supporters of the bill including Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee say the legislation is a “Second Amendment bill” and will protect property owners who need the rightsto carry a weapon and protect their property and their land.
City of Pine Lake Mayor Kathie deNobriga says in her opinion, the law “just doesn’t make sense.”
“I think this is a terrible idea,” said deNobriga. “People supporting this bill need to put politics aside and think about the safety of the people.”
She says the bill would cost Pine Lake, which has 800 residents, too much money.
“We only have three officers on our police force. If this bill passes, we would have to work them longer and give them overtime, or go out and hire independent security officers to serve at city programs and meetings,” said deNobriga. “A bill like this on our residents would be crippling.”
The new legislation would overturn a previous “blanket bans” on carrying guns into houses of worship and make it easier to carry guns in bars. If the bill were enacted into law, houses of worship and private business owners, such as bar owners, would decide if they want to prohibit firearms on their property.
“The Safe Carry Act” would mean people with carry permits would face fewer penalties for breaking existing laws as well. For example, people licensed to carry weapons could no longer be arrested for taking them on college campuses and would instead face a minimum fine of $100. Those with a license would no longer face arrest for taking a firearm into an airport security checkpoint, so long as the person with the gun immediately followed instructions to leave.
City of Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett said the law would not only be costly for municipalities to implement, but could lead to many lawsuits.
“The city would have to foot the costs of those lawsuits,” said Baskett..“Most of the supporters of this bill are in small, rural areas. In an urban area like Decatur, a bill like this just wouldn’t be safe. On top of that, I’m not really comfortable mixing alcohol and bars with guns.”
Other provisions of HB 875:
Remove fingerprinting requirements for weapons carry license renewals.
Prohibit the state from creating and maintaining a database of weapons carry license holders.
Repeal the need for state-required licenses for firearms dealers, instead requiring only a federal firearms license.
Lower the age for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 18 years for active duty military with specific training.