Ga. bill would expand areas where guns are allowed
ATLANTA — Gun owners with permits would be allowed to carry firearms into the state Capitol and might also bring them into churches, bars and on college campuses, under legislation unveiled on today by a key Republican lawmaker.
The bill from state Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, the Senate GOP whip, would also allow firearms in the publicly accessible area of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Seabaugh said today that the bill is aimed at clarifying the state's firearms carry law to make it less confusing for law enforcement as well as the roughly 300,000 Georgia gun owners with permits to carry weapons.
"We have a 'gotcha' law that needs to be clarified," the Sharpsburg Republican said.
Under the bill, guns would still be banned inside elementary and secondary schools, in college dormitories and in government agency offices.
Restaurant owners, churches and other private property owners could choose whether or not to allow guns on their property, under the bill.
The bill would also take firearms licensing away from Georgia's 159 county probate judges and centralize the process under the secretary of state's office.
Alice Johnson of Georgians for Gun Safety said she had not seen the bill yet and planned to sit down with Seabaugh later in the week to discuss it.
She has expressed concern in the past about allowing guns on college campuses, worrying they could endanger student safety.
Legislative leaders have been cool to the idea of a new battle over guns this year, arguing that the state's budget woes will take precedence over nearly everything else this session.
And Gov. Sonny Perdue said on Friday that he wasn't inclined to back any new gun laws that pit gun rights against private property rights.
In 2008 Perdue signed a measure that allowed those with permits to carry firearms in state parks, restaurants that serve alcohol and mass transit.