Georgia House Passes Expansive Gun Law
(APN) ATLANTA — On Tuesday, February 18, 2014, the Georgia House of Representatives passed HB 875, the Safe Carry Protection Act, a Second Amendment advocates’ dream bill that has been pushed by a somewhat shadowy group, Georgia Carry.
The bill passed 119 to 56. It has already crossed over to the Georgia Senate, where it has been referred to the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, the bill passed House Committee on February 07, 2014:
Numerous activists spoke against HB 875 at a Committee hearing on the bill on February 05, 2014. APN has posted original footage of activists’ testimony to our Video Section:
State Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) took to the well before the full House of Representatives and spoke in favor of the bill.
HB 875 would primarily expand Second Amendment rights for current Georgia Weapons Carry license holders, by increasing locations where those individuals can carry their weapons; and by emphasizing private property, according to a press release sent by the House on behalf of Rep. Lindsey, a current candidate for U.S. House.
HB 875 would give current Georgia Weapons Carry license holders broader access to government buildings, if that building does not provide active security at entrances; and allow private property owners to decide on the prohibition or permit of weapons at churches and bars.
HB 875 also allows veterans under the age of 21 who have been honorably discharged from service to receive a weapons carry license; eliminates the re-fingerprinting requirement for weapons carry license renewals; prohibits the creation of a database of license holders; and lessens the penalty for license holders who are found carrying a weapon on college campuses, the press release states.
Georgia already has quite liberal gun laws. For example, one can buy a gun from an individual at one of the many gun shows around the state, without a background check. One could potentially be mentally unstable with hate and rage in their heart, and buy a gun at a gun show in Georgia, without a background check. If HB 875 is passed and enacted, such an individual would then be able to carry that gun into a bar, church, or school, and shoot people.
To buy a firearm from a licensed dealer in Georgia, one will need a valid state issued ID, and will be required to pass a background check. But to buy from Joe-Six-Packs in the woods, no such check is required.
If a person moves to Georgia from another state, they do not have to register their gun. There is no handgun registration in Georgia. Also, there is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm in Georgia.
The driving force behind this bill has been Georgia Carry, a gun rights organization, and its members.
John Monroe is the Vice President of Georgia Carry and a guns rights attorney. It was rather obvious that many members of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee looked to Monroe for input in writing the bill. He was also called on after the hearing to help guide the Committee on revisions to the bill.
Many of the people who testified to the House Committee in favor of the bill identified themselves as members of various organizations; however, research by Atlanta Progressive News has identified most, if not all, of them as members of Georgia Carry. Georgia Carry has also been organizing lobbying efforts. However, the group has not been fully transparent about its role in lobbying for the bill.
“The legislation does not represent the majority of people of Georgia, but only a small number of gun advocates,” Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Atlanta) told Reuters wire service.
On one day of the public hearing, the room overflowed with people opposing HB 875, including teachers; mothers; and members of the clergy, unions, and the general public. By contrast, a small group of gun advocates with large influence got the bill through the House.
“This bill is a step in the right direction moving Georgia public policy on gun ownership rights in closer alignment with both the purpose and spirit of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the realities of the world we live in. I congratulate the chair of our Public Safety Committee, the committee’s members, and the authors of the bill. I hope that three times proves to be a charm for our friends in the Senate who have previously failed to act on this, the People’s Chamber’s actions, in our previous two efforts over the past year,” Rep. Lindsey said.
“I sincerely hope that it is the beginning of an honest dialogue in three areas: the realities and dangers behind the fantasy of merely labeling certain areas as ‘gun free’ zones; the dangers posed from our dysfunctional mental health system; and the responsibility that comes with gun possession in the consumption of alcohol,” Lindsey said.
“In the area of so called ‘Gun Free Zones,’ we need to recognize that merely designating under the law such an area without accompanied added security is delusional and counter-productive. Expecting such areas to keep people safe is like expecting a screen door to keep out a burglar. Overall, while Georgia as a whole has seen a reduction in violent crime in recent years, Georgia college campuses have seen an increase,” he said.
“In 2012 alone, there were 38 forcible rapes, 46 aggravated assaults, and 87 robberies on Georgia campuses. Therefore, without real armed security and screening, people should be allowed in any public place to exercise their Second Amendment right to protect themselves and others,” he said.
“In the area of mental health, a 2011 study at the University of California found direct correlation between homicide rates by the mentally ill and the difficulty of involuntarily committing individuals who pose a threat to themselves and others,” he said.
“Finally, as responsible gun owners know, with the right to bear arms comes the responsibility to do so safely. This is especially true when it comes to the use of alcohol or drugs. While Georgia law makes it a simple misdemeanor to drink in a restaurant while carrying a gun, it is perfectly legal to do so elsewhere. Georgia law makes it illegal and subject to an aggravated misdemeanor to drink and carry a gun only if you discharge the firearm while intoxicated. Just as we have rightly made it illegal to drive while intoxicated even if no accident occurs, we should similarly make it an aggravated misdemeanor to carry a weapon while intoxicated under OCGA 16-11-134,” he said.