Gun rights activists want to push the limit on where they can carry concealed weapons in Georgia. House Bill 615 would allow them to carry guns anywhere except in a courtroom or prison.
Republican Representative Tim Bearden is championing the bill. He told a house committee that people with carry permits must be able to take their guns into churches, bars, schools, colleges, and to the Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International airport, which is currently a gun-free zone.
“When you say it’s a gun free zone at the airport and you can’t bring one on, you didn’t just make the airport a gun free zone, you made that person defenseless," he says.
The controversial bill drew quick criticism from Democratic Representative Roberta Abdul Salaam, who said the airport needs special consideration.
"We have a high level of threats right now in this entire country, and for whatever reason our airports seem to be targeted," she said. "Wouldn’t we want to be more cautious at least around an airport?”
The bill would affect about 400,000 Georgians who currently hold gun carry permits. It was assigned to a house subcommittee.
The legislation is backed by the gun rights group Georgia Carry. The group is angry that Transit Police in Atlanta arrested and searched one of its members who carried a gun on MARTA property. A federal judge recently agreed with MARTA.
The proposal is backed by the National Rifle Association and should get strong consideration during the upcoming legislative session. This is an election year for all house members and state senators.