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Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 12:50pm

Gun Rights Expansion Passes House

After debating the issue for more than an hour Thursday, state lawmakers in the Georgia House OK’d a bill allowing guns in churches, on college campuses and other places.

Under the bill, licensed gun owners could bring their weapons to these places with some restrictions.

Rep. Scott Holcomb, an Atlanta Democrat and a combat veteran, spoke against the bill. He said he backs gun rights but worries about the bill’s potential consequences.

“There is no absolute, no kidding, right answer on gun policy," he said on the floor of the House. "The truth is we have no way of knowing if more lives will be lost or saved if we pass this bill. That’s the truth.”

He added, “There is no data – none – to support the argument that the cure for gun violence is more guns.”

But supporters say gun owners should have the right to carry their property wherever they go.

Republican Rep. John Meadows of Calhoun is a co-sponsor of the bill. He said many laws abridge property owners’ rights, and this bill starts to reverse the trend.

"Your rights have been chipped away little by little for a long, long time," he said.

The bill also includes a provision that would allow school administrators to arm their employees, a move that Republican backers say would deter attacks on school.

It would also allow people who have received voluntary inpatient care at a mental hospital or substance center to receive a license to carry a weapon. Right now, judges have discretion over whether to issue licenses to those applicants.

Judges would be required to check whether applicants have received involuntary treatment and could refuse to issue licenses in those cases.

The bill now heads to the state Senate for a vote.

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