Sweeping new gun law takes effect

Would you like some hot sauce with that barbecue? How about some hot lead?

A day after Georgia’s new gun law, which has been dubbed the “guns everywhere” bill, went into effect, residents were dealing with their new power.

Under its provisions, residents with a proper gun permit — the Georgia Weapons Carry License — are allowed to carry guns at a number of places previously off-limits and can take firearms into their favorite restaurants, nightclubs, classrooms and even some government buildings.

Those who believe in the mystical body of the Second Amendment will even be allowed to take their guns into a church, if that church chose to opt in.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Safe Carry Protection Act in April after the state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the measure on the last day of the legislative session.

The law allows any licensed gun owner from Georgia and 28 other states to carry a gun pretty much anywhere in the state, with some restrictions.

Gun owners who hold a Georgia Weapons Carry License can take their weapons into bars as long as they do not consume alcohol. At any government building that has detectors or security guards on screening duty, the weapon is still barred.

School districts can appoint staff members to carry a weapon.

The measure, which was easily passed by both houses of the Legislature, had some fierce opponents: gun control groups; the state’s police chiefs association; the state restaurant association; and the Transportation Security Administration, which is in charge of security at airports. The new law grants access to permit-holders to carry guns into TSA checkpoints without penalty.

According to some polls, more than 70 percent of Georgians opposed the bill.

There has been similar legislation in other states, including Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee, but the Georgia law earned national attention because it is so sweeping and all in one piece of legislation. The National Rifle Association, the leading gun rights organization, called the law the “most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent history.”

Deal, a Republican who has earned an A rating from the NRA, is seeking re-election. When he signed the bill, he was very clear about how it should be seen. “The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should be at the forefront of our minds,” Deal said at the time.

“Roughly 500,000 Georgia citizens have a permit of this kind, which is approximately 5 percent of our population. License holders have passed background checks and are in good standing with the law. 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,” said the governor.

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