Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Wednesday a sweeping pro-gun bill that enhances the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Known officially as the House Bill 60, the “Safe Carry Protection Act,” but dubbed the “guns everywhere bill by some,” allows concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms into bars, schools, churches and certain government buildings under certain circumstances.
“For decades now I have staunchly defended our Second Amendment rights as both a legislator and as governor,” said Deal, during his address before he signed the bill.
“This legislation will protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License,” he continued. “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.
Undoubtedly, this is a major victory for gun-rights advocates, specifically the National Rifle Association which heavily endorsed the bill in the face of tough opposition from various gun-control organizations.
“On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, we thank Governor Nathan Deal for signing this historic pro-gun bill into law. This is the most comprehensive pro-gun reform bill in Georgia state history,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, in a statement obtained by Guns.com via email.
“While Americans for Responsible Solutions and other anti-gun organizations tried their best to defeat this legislation, they failed in their efforts to limit the Second Amendment freedoms of Georgia’s law-abiding gun owners,” he continued.
House Bill 60 strengthens gun rights in the following way, as the NRA-ILA pointed out:
-Removal of fingerprinting for renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses (WCL).
-Prohibiting the state from creating and maintaining a database of WCL holders.
-Creation of an absolute defense for the legal use of deadly force in the face of a violent attack.
-Removal of the sweeping restrictions on legally carrying a firearm with a WCL in churches and bars, leaving this decision to private property owners.
-Lowering the age to obtain a concealed WCL for self-defense from 21 to 18 for active duty military, with specific training.
-Repealing the unnecessary and duplicative state-required license for a firearms dealer, instead requiring only a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
-Prohibiting a ban on firearms in public housing, ensuring that the right to self-defense should not be infringed based on where one calls home.
-Codifying the ability to legally carry, with a WCL, in sterile/non-secure areas of airports.
-Including a provision that would have the state report those persons who have been involuntarily hospitalized or have been adjudicated mentally deficient to the NICS system while also providing an ability for relief through an application process to the court system for the purpose of restoration of rights.
-Stating that under a declared state of emergency, all law-abiding gun owners will not have their Second Amendment rights restricted or infringed by executive authority through Emergency Powers protection.
-Strengthening current firearms preemption statutes through further clarification of the regulatory authority of local governments, excluding firearm discharge ordinances.
HB 60 will take effect on July 1, 2014.
UPDATE, 4:28 PM EST: Ladd Everitt, director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told Guns.com in an email that this law is only going to exacerbate gun-related violence in the Peach State.
“Georgia already ranks 18th out of the 50 states in terms of having the highest gun death rate per capita,” said Everitt. “This law will make matters even worse.”
“Remarkably, the bill could have been uglier,” he continued. “Gun violence prevention advocates in the state rallied determinedly to scrap provisions that would have forced churches and colleges to allow guns on their premises. There is no doubt they saved lives by doing so.”