Georgia Gov. Signs Bill Allowing Guns in Churches, Bars, and School Zones

April 23, 2014 - 3:49 PM

Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (AP Photo/John Amis)

(CNSNews.com) – Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Wednesday a bill that expands gun rights in the state to allow weapons in government buildings, bars, places of worship, and school zones under certain circumstances.

Under House Bill 60, also known as the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, school districts will get to decide whether to allow authorized personnel to carry weapons within school safety zones under certain circumstances.

In addition, church leaders will be able to decide whether to allow licensed gun owners to bring weapons into their place of worship. The law also removes fingerprinting requirements for renewal licenses.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action called the bill the “most comprehensive pro-gun bill in state history.”

Deal, who characterized himself as a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, said the measure “will protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License.”

“Roughly 500,000 Georgia citizens have a permit of this kind, which is approximately 5 percent of our population,” Deal said in a press release. “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.”

“Our nation’s founders put the right to bear arms on par with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Georgians cherish their Second Amendment rights, and this law embodies those values,” he added.

Executive Director Pia Carusone of Americans for Responsible Solutions, which lobbied against the bill, called it “extremism in action.”

“It moves Georgia out of the mainstream,” Carusone said. “Since the Georgia House first passed this expansive legislation, thousands of Georgians and tens of thousands of Americans have said loud and clear that they are tired of the gun lobby advancing its extreme agenda at the expense of their families’ safety.”