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Monday, April 1, 2013 - 11:42am

Ga. Gun Rights Expansion Still Possible

State legislators from both parties say a push to expand gun rights in Georgia is far from over, as there is relatively little disagreement among a majority of lawmakers.

Bills that would have allowed guns everywhere from churches to college campuses stalled in the final hours of the legislative session last week, despite strong support among the Republican majority and some Democrats.

“We didn’t get there, but I think we moved the ball forward on protecting our Second Amendment rights," said state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon). "We’ll look forward to maybe coming back and finishing the job next session.”

State Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) supported a provision that would have allowed some K-12 educators to carry guns in schools. But the idea of guns on campus was a poison pill that killed the whole package, she said.

"The thought of giving children, specifically college students, weapons on college campuses terrified me," Waites said. "I was adamantly opposed to this particular piece of legislation for that reason. The other pieces I could live with."

Waites predicts lawmakers will reintroduce legislation next year that leaves colleges out of the equation. At the same time, she wants to introduce some training requirements for gun-owners seeking a concealed weapons permit.

"If you’re going to carry a concealed weapon, you must know how to load it, how to unload it, and how to operate it," Waites said. "If you can’t do those three things you should not be walking around with a gun on your hip.”

Waites said she’s not yet decided if she will file that legislation; the gun debate in Georgia is so emotionally charged, she said, she fears for her personal safety.