Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

February 24, 2014

Ga. House passes gun bill

VALDOSTA — A bill allowing firearms in government buildings, churches, and bars has passed the House in the Georgia General Assembly, and is awaiting a vote by the Senate.

Three of the four members of our local legislative delegation voted for the bill — Rep. Amy Carter, Rep. Ellis Black and Rep. Jason Shaw. Only Rep. Dexter Sharper voted no.

The bill, if the Senate passes it, would allow any citizen with a carry permit to walk into any government building or facility, unless said building or facility has security at the door, with a weapon.

Anyone with a permit could carry a gun to church, church services, church events, etc. and into a bar or drinking establishment. The bill strikes out the language regarding drinking and carrying a gun.

The bill would also strengthen the law, allowing probate judges to run background checks on those applying for permits to check for prior mental instability. If a person has been treated or incarcerated in a mental health facility in the previous five years, they have the right to deny that person a license to carry. Hopefully, this provision would prevent a suicide or an individual intending to cause harm to others.

While arguing 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms, an equally compelling argument can be found in the Preamble to the Constitution, which proscribes insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare.

Conceding that allowing firearms in the hands of the mentally ill can be regulated for the common good, a move to protect the common good by limiting access to firearms by intoxicated individuals, whose judgment is impaired, seems to similarly fall on the side of common good versus individual rights.

Another provision allows those caught with a “weapon” — and there is a pretty broad list — in an airport would not face an automatic felony. If the act was unknown and inadvertent, the charge will be a misdemeanor instead.

The legislation strengthens other aspects of the law, regarding carrying on public school property, but language in the bill may open it to interpretation as a stand-your-ground law.

The Senate vote will decide the bill’s fate later this week.

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