The ink is dry and H.B. 60 is no longer the “gun bill”.
It took two sessions and an untold amount of private and public wrangling, but Georgia’s “Safe Carry Protection Act”, more commonly known as the “guns everywhere” bill, is now law.
Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill Wednesday, during a ceremony in Ellijay, Georgia.
Hundreds of supporters, including members of Georgia Carry, attended the signing and held a bbq afterwards.
GPB News reporter Jeanne Bonner, who has covered the bill since this year’s legislative session, says the ceremony had the “feel of a campaign rally.”
“It really was very celebratory, said Bonner. “And they feel like its a victory.”
This version of the gun bill passed without the “campus carry” provision. A potential compromise that would have given university presidents the option of allowing guns on college campuses didn't pass legal review this legislative session.
Bonner says that provision may be next on the agenda for groups such as Georgia Carry. “They are certainly very pleased with what they got. But they very much want the campus carry provision. They very much want guns to be allowed on college campuses,” said Bonner. “And so they will come back next year when the legislature reconvenes and see what they can get.” She says these members of the organization don’t want ‘gotcha’ places in the law. “They want private property to be more or less the same.” H.B. 60 passed in the waning hours of the 2014 session, and the NRA lauded it as the “most comprehensive pro-gun” bill in recent history. On the other side, the group Americans for Responsible Solutions decried it as the “most extreme gun bill in America.” On GPB’s On The Story, the weekly political panel weighed in on how the new gun law would impact the upcoming governor’s race. “ First of all, we have to remember it was a bipartisan bill,” said syndicated political columnist Jackie Cushman. “And Deal mentioned that during the signing. So it’s not one side or the other. And in fact, Jason Carter, who’s running against Deal, has said he voted for the bill.” Georgia Senator Jason Carter has described himself as an NRA Democrat. On MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, Carter explained how his position on Georgia’s gun bill differs from the national Democratic agenda: “I think the Second Amendment is important to many people in Georgia. And I know a lot of national Democrats and others have been upset or angry about this, and I’ve heard from a lot of them. But again, we've worked across the aisle to try to make the bill better than it was when it first started. I think we succeeded on that. But ultimately, you’re talking about people who have a license to carry in a state where the Second Amendment is incredibly important.” Democratic political consultant Tharon Johnson says Carter's public stance on H.B. 60 was the first time his campaign was really tested on some of the state’s biggest issues. “This is a conversation that if you look at national democratic agenda, it’s not something that plays very well. But Jason said publicly that he’s not a national democrat, he’s a Georgia Democrat” Eric Tanenblatt, attorney and GOP political advisor, said Carter’s position on H.B. 60 reflects the wider views of the people of Georgia. “Georgia is a conservative state, and you have candidates that are trying to match up to the conservative values of this state.” During his address at the signing ceremony, Governor Deal said his stance on the bill and gun rights in the state shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially since the NRA gave him an “A” rating during his term in Congress and endorsed him when he ran for governor of Georgia. However, the removal of the provision allowing guns on college campuses was one of the main reasons the governor was able to embrace the bill, says AJC political reporter Jim Galloway. “Cleary it’s the absence of campus carry,” said Galloway. “That was the one tripwire that the governor said he could not support." Lawmakers debated the gun bill for 2 years, and it didn’t get passed a year ago, says Tanenblatt. House Speaker David Ralston and the governor worked to come up with a compromise at the very end of the session. “What we finally have here in Georgia is a law that I think matches up with where the Georgia voters are.”