Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 60 into law on Wednesday after praising the efforts of gun rights advocates. The bill, also known as the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, was passed by state lawmakers in the last hour of the 2014 legislative season in March. Both supporters and critics of the bill have called it one of the most permissive state gun laws in the United States, with gun control advocates dubbing it the “guns everywhere bill.” In legal terms, that nickname is not exactly true. While the law allows gun owners to bring firearms into bars, churches, government buildings, schools, and airports, there is also a long list of restrictions.
Churches and other houses of worship may “opt-in” to allow firearms on their property. While gun owners who carry a firearm into church will not be arrested, they may be charged a stiff fine if that particular church decided not to opt-in. In comparison, bar owners who decide to prohibit guns from their establishments must opt-out. Schools will also only allow authorized personnel to be armed inside their facilities, and firearms remain barred from certain sections of both airports and government buildings.
Gun rights supporters say it is a huge win for the Second Amendment in Georgia.
“As people process this information, they realize that we’re actually proposing something substantive that will save lives,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told The Washington Times.
The NRA previously hailed the bill as “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent history.”
In his signing statement, Governor Deal reiterated his continued support for the right to keep and bear arms.
“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,” Deal said.
You can view Deal’s full statement below:
Gun control groups have expressed disappointment over the governor’s decision, despite amendments made to House Bill 60 to make it less permissive. Some religious leaders have also voiced their concerns over the issue of guns in church.
The law will affect over 500,000 licensed handgun owners in Georgia, which amounts to nearly five percent of the state’s population.