For the third time in two years, a bill to expand where guns can legally be carried in Georgia easily passes the state House.
Bars and churches would be removed from the prohibited list under House Bill 875. Instead, it would be up owners or church leaders to decide whether or not to allow carry permit holders to bring their guns.
“We get governments out of a church’s business as 45 other states do now,” he says. “The church goers totally control what goes on inside of their property.”
But opponents, mostly House Democrats, complained church pastors should not be placed in the position of having to screen weapons if they do not want to allow them.
“It demands a compromise by requiring Georgians from all faiths… who may not want firearms in their places of business or places of worship to modify their private property, perhaps by introducing screening equipment and procedures at their own expense,” he says.
The bill does not allow guns on college campuses, but Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to include the provision. He says almost the entire campus of Kennesaw State University sits in his district.
“All are forcibly denied their Second Amendment rights the moment they step foot on campus; this is immoral,” he says.
The legislation does reduce the penalty for carry permit holders caught with a gun on campus from a misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.
The bill allows school districts that cannot afford to hire a resource officer to designate a trained staff member to carry a gun as long as it is kept on their person at all times.
But Rep. Carla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) complains teachers have enough to deal with just instructing students.
“The majority of school employees are not trained to use firearms in active shooting environments,” she says. “Only law enforcement officers are best equipped to respond to a violent incident.”
The bill passed 119-56, mostly along party lines, and now goes to the Senate where it will go through the committee process there.