The fate of Georgia’s sweeping gun reform bill was decided in the last hour of the 2014 legislative season last Thursday. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, House Bill 60 received a final vote of 122-58 and is now headed to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal. Supporters are calling the pro-gun bill one of the largest gun reform bills in recent state history, but opponents worry that it might do more harm than good.
House Bill 60 would allow licensed gun owners to carry firearms into certain government buildings, schools, and parts of airports. This led opponents of the bill to dub it the “guns everywhere bill.” House Bill 60 originally also proposed removing the state’s blanket restriction on firearm carry in bars, but was later amended. Houses of worship can “opt in” to allow members to carry firearms inside their property. The bill would also legalize the use of suppressors for hunting.
“It re-establishes a lot of our freedoms that we should already have,” Jerry Henry, executive director of Georgia Carry, told MSNBC. “We just want to be able to protect ourselves no matter where we go.”
The bill also contains language that would prevent the creation of a gun owners database or suspension of the Second Amendment in a state of emergency. School teachers would be able to bring firearms into work to protect themselves as well.
Not everyone is happy to see the bill pass, especially gun control advocates that see the legislation as a step backwards for the state.
“We absolutely oppose it,” said Brian Malte, national policy director for the Brady Campagin to Prevent Gun Violence. “Our feeling is that the answer to gun violence is not more guns.”
Some religious leaders and organizations also oppose the bill, which they say is against the tradition of sanctuary offered by many churches across the state. Some pastors do support the bill, but say that the decision of allowing firearms must be made by each individual congregation. WDEF reported that the bill would mandate assessing a $100 fine to any person who brings a firearm into a church without permission.