While a handful of blue states have rushed through a number of high-profile gun-control measures over the past year, the more general trend of recent years among the states has been toward gun liberalization. Even Illinois has a real concealed-carry permitting procedure now (I still have to pinch myself over that one), and a bunch of states are still working on further measures to expand the list of places where law-abiding citizens are legally allowed to defend themselves and their neighbors — like Georgia, which is gearing up to pass new bills that will do away with a lot of the laws restricting concealed firearms in churches, K-12 schools, airports, government buildings, public housing, and restaurants that serve alcohol (provided that the carrier does not consume said alcohol). The NRA called the House version of the legislation that passed in February “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent state history”:
-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. …
-Allowing school systems to decide whether staff and faculty may carry a firearm on school property, pending approved training, similar to the NRA’s National School Shield program.
-Allowing the lawful carry by WCL holders in government buildings where it is not currently restricted or security screening personnel are posted during regular business hours.
The state Senate passed its own version earlier this week that somewhat mitigated a few of the liberalizations — giving churches the option to “opt in” to allowing people to carry concealed, for instance — but generally, it looks like at least some version of these actual common sense (and I don’t mean “common sense” the way hyper-progressives like Nanny Bloomberg use it) gun reforms could make it through the state legislature next week. I remember a few years ago when my own home state of Virginia passed liberalizing gun laws that included allowing people to carry concealed in alcohol-serving establishments, the state Democrats were flipping out about Virginia turning into the “wild wild West” — and what actually happened? Gun violence went down, of course.
The lone exception to Georgia’s reforms, however, is college campuses. That’s a whole other ball game, apparently:
Republican lawmakers abandoned a push Tuesday to decriminalize carrying a gun on Georgia’s college campuses as they try to rally support for legislation that would allow firearms in churches, bars and arm school teachers.
State Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, made the concession over college campuses as a political compromise and a tactic to pressure the Senate into taking up the gun legislation.
The original proposal approved by House lawmakers is now being considered by the Senate. It would have made carrying a gun on campus a civil violation punishable by a maximum $100 fine rather than a crime. University and college officials in Georgia have strongly opposed weakening prohibitions on weapons, including a failed plan last year that would have let students with a state-issued license to carry to bring their weapons onto campus.
Powell said trying to overcome opposition from the University System of Georgia would have been difficult.
“They are a fourth branch of government,” he said. “They carry an enormous amount of influence.”