A controversial new law, officially part of the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 but known by opponents as the "guns everywhere law," went into effect in Georgia today. The law, which has been called "a historic victory for the Second Amendment" by the National Rifle Association, allows people with concealed-carry permits to enter bars, nightclubs, unsecured government buildings, and public terminals in airports while armed.
School districts may now elect to arm teachers and administrators after they undergo training, though thus far none of the state's school districts have chosen to do so. People are not allowed to bring firearms into religious establishments such as churches, but individual establishments can opt in and allow them.
Some local governments in the state are reportedly considering installing security systems in government buildings in order to keep out those carrying weapons; under the law, people with concealed-carry permits can bring firearms into only government buildings that do not have security systems.
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“If citizens will allow [local governments] to spend that much money to secure a building to keep honest people out, that they’ve never tried to secure to keep criminals out before, I’m sure there are some that will do that," Jerry Henry, executive director of the non-profit organization Georgia Carry, which lobbied for the law, told VICE News. "Those people were not worried about those buildings been unsecured last year, because the only people that could go in there, apparently, were criminals. Now that the law-abiding citizen can go in there, they’ve got to secure it to keep those people out.”
Although the law lets people bring firearms into bars and nightclubs, bar and club owners have the right to kick out anyone with a firearm as they see fit.
Although the law lets people bring firearms into bars and nightclubs, bar and club owners have the right to kick out anyone with a firearm as they see fit. Signs are not a legal way of prohibiting firearm carriers from entering a bar, however, and could even lead to lawsuits.
Under the law, police are not allowed to demand to see someone's concealed-carry permit. “That is the same thing as a policeman cannot detain you walking down the street to see if you have a driver’s license,” Henry said. “The reason it was codified is because we got tired of people doing it and violating people’s rights.”
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In 2011, Governor Nathan Deal — who signed the Safe Carry Protection Act — signed an immigration law that let police demand immigration documents from suspects who, if unable to provide those documents, could then be taken to jail where the deportation process was begun. Parts of that law were later struck down by a federal court.
A May poll conducted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that 59 percent of Georgia residents disapprove of the new concealed-carry laws. But according to Henry, the poll is "not accurate…. We did a poll of our own and it was basically vice versa from what they found out.”
Though Deal is running for reelection this fall, signing the bill probably won't be a political liability for him. His opponent, current state Senator Jason Carter, voted for it.
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