Major gun rights bill close to reality in Georgia

7:26 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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  • March 22, 2013 Georgia House vote on Senate gun carry bill
  • Georgia State Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper)
  • Georgia State Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw)
  • Georgia State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell)
  • (File photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

ATLANTA -- Many gun advocates are celebrating the fact that a major gun rights bill moved closer to reality in Georgia on Friday.

Senate Bill 101 passed the State House overwhelmingly, by a vote of 116 to 55.

It increases the number of places where anyone 21 or older who has a Georgia gun carry license can take weapons.

Under the bill, any permit holder could take a gun into a church, as long as that church doesn't mind.

A permit holder could take a gun onto a public college campus, except in dorms, fraternities, sororities or at sporting events. Private colleges can make their own policy.

And any of Georgia's 180 K-12 public school systems could choose for themselves whether to train and arm willing administrators for added protection.

State Representative Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) shepherded the bill through only about 10 minutes of House floor debate.

He told 11 Alive News the added carry rights are meant for law-abiding adults and not criminals.

"Those people have been through a license requirement, they've been finger printed, background checked, I don't think that's an issue; these are mature Georgians," he added.

Most of those voting against the bill were Democrats who think it goes too far.

"I don't think the spreading of guns is necessarily a good thing," Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) told 11 Alive.

"We already have enough crime in certain areas and I don't think the access to guns is going to help that," he added.

The only person to actually debate against the bill was a conservative Republican who doesn't think it goes far enough, especially at colleges.

"Just because I'm a 21-year-old adult and I choose to live on a college campus, I don't get to exercise my Second Amendment rights?" asked Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw).

"What if we did that with freedom of speech or what if we did that with freedom of religion?" he added.

The bill would also lower the age for a gun carry license from 21 to 18 for honorably discharged veterans or active duty and military reservists.

Supporters say that's so trained and experienced veterans can quality for private security jobs between those ages.

With only a few days left in this year's legislative session, the bill now goes back to the Senate, which will have to reject or approve House changes.

If they accept the House version, it's on to Republican Governor Nathan Deal, who'll then decide whether to veto it.

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