Ga. allows guns in bars, some gov't buildings

By Ashley Mitchem, Morning traffic, news reporter, amitchem@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 23 2014 12:44:49 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2014 05:56:54 PM EDT

VIDEO: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation Wednesday which expands gun rights for those in Georgia.

Employees carrying guns at school, patrons with guns at bars -- those are just some of what's now allowed in Georgia.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Wednesday afternoon expanding gun rights in the state.

The National Rifle Association describes the bill as "the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent state history." But critics call the changes extreme.

In 2008, Georgia passed a law that would allow licensed gun owners to bring a gun into a bar or restaurant, but they would not be allowed to drink. This new law changes that.

Deal signed a bill Wednesday that allows those with a concealed weapon license to carry a gun into a bar without restriction and into some government buildings that don't have certain security measures.

It also allows religious leaders to decide whether it's OK for a person with a carry license to bring a gun into their place of worship.

Under the bill, school districts would now be able, if they wanted, to allow some employees to carry a firearm under certain conditions.

The bill also eliminates the fingerprinting requirement for renewing weapons carry licenses.

The legislation prohibits the state from creating and maintaining a database of licensed weapons carriers and repeals the state-required license for firearms dealers.

"I am in favor of guns and people having a permit, but I also think that guns and alcohol don't mix," Georgia resident Cecil Stalin said.

"I'm not OK with them not requiring a re-registration when that license runs out because anything could happen between that time frame," resident Carolynn Griggs said.

Griggs said she's not opposed to the bill as a whole.

"They're just trying to give people the opportunity to take care of themselves and protect themselves," she said.

In Florida, people can't bring guns into a school or bar, period.

"It's like drinking and driving. There's a risk involved, and it's about personal responsibility," a Florida resident named Lee said.

Liz Jacksin lives in Canada, where they have strict gun laws.

"We're quite amazed how easy it is in Georgia and Florida to carry a small weapon, and frankly I think it just promotes usage of it," Jacksin said.

The law will also allow licensed gun owners to carry firearms in airport common areas. If they accidentally bring their guns to airport security checkpoints, they will be allowed to pick up their weapon and leave without criminal penalty.

Of course, they will not be allowed to go past security checkpoints with the firearm.

Although this bill may seem lax, gun owners do have to have a license to carry. There are other states in the U.S. (Arizona, Wyoming, Alaska, Arkansas and Vermont) that have constitutional carry, which allows both open and concealed carry of property holstered handguns without requiring a permit.

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