A member of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force said Georgia’s new gun rights law would result in violence spiraling out of control.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, which passed 112-58 in the state House and 37-18 in the state Senate. It expands areas where people are allowed to concealed carry, including schools, churches, some parts of airports, and government buildings.
Supporters include state Sen. Jason Carter, Jimmy Carter’s grandson who is also challenging Deal for the governor’s post, but Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said the state bill sent the wrong message to the national gun-control effort.
“Over one million people have been killed with guns in the United States since 1968. U.S. homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high-income countries combined, despite similar non-lethal crime and violence rates. Most gun owners are responsible and law-abiding, and they use their guns safely. We must begin discussing common-sense steps we can take right now to combat gun violence,” Jackson Lee said in a statement. “Signing House Bill 60 is not that right step to take when trying to confront gun violence in America.”
“…The legislation signed today by the Governor of Georgia legalizes the use of silencers for hunting, clears the way for school staffers to carry guns in school zones and lets leaders of religious congregations choose whether to allow licensed gun holders inside. And it allows permitted gun owners to carry their weapons in government buildings – including parts of courthouses – where there is no security at the entrance. This is a step in the wrong direction!!!!!!”
The bill also allows 18-year-old soldiers to not have to wait until they turn 21 to get a concealed carry permit. “If they’re old enough to hold a gun in defense of our liberties, then they’re old enough to hold a gun, and they shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 21,” Deal said.
Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, called for “a comprehensive approach: a surge in mental health services, mental health ‘first aid’ programs to identify and intervene in problems before it is too late, and a background check system that will stop the most dangerous among us from buying guns, by getting records in the system and closing the Internet and gun-show loopholes.”
“We must take on this challenge with the recognition that changing the pervasive culture of violence will not happen overnight,” she added. “While we can act now and pass legislation to ameliorate some of causes of the youth violence epidemic, this problem is larger than our laws. That is why we must make an enduring commitment to our youth. Signing House Bill 60 does not make that commitment to our children. We must work tirelessly to create an environment in this country that lifts the psychological burden of violence off the shoulders of our kids.”
Deal, who called the signing “a great day to reaffirm our liberties,” said the law does protect future generations.
“Roughly 500,000 Georgia citizens have a permit of this kind, which is approximately 5 percent of our population. License holders have passed background checks and are in good standing with the law,” the governor said. “This law gives added protections to those who have played by the rules — and who can protect themselves and others from those who don’t play by the rules.”