Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is expected to sign a bill that even the National Rifle Association is calling the most “comprehensive gun bill” in recent state history. It allows guns in bars, nightclubs, and government buildings without security checkpoints such as libraries. It eliminates criminal charges for those who accidentally bring their guns to the airport or other secured buildings where guns are prohibited. It even expands the state’s Stand Your Ground provision to allow felons to invoke the defense, and allows guns in public schools by authorized teachers and administrators.
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, calls it “the most extreme gun bill in America.”
A House bill passed last year that also would have allowed guns in bars and places of worship, but that bill never cleared the Senate. According to Washington State University Sociology Professor Jennifer Schwartz, “40% of male [homicide] offenders were drinking alcohol at the time” and about one in three female offenders were also engaged in drinking.
The amended bill did roll back a select few of the most controversial provisions. The final version allows guns in places of worship, but only with explicit permission. And it eliminated a controversial provision to limit the punishment for carrying a gun onto a college campus.
But opponents of the bill were so overwhelmed by the scope of the bill as it swept through the legislature that they described one of their primary goals as ensuring that lawmakers at least “go through the bill in detail.” As MSNBC reports, “a lack of transparency left many residents and organizations puzzled about which measures were included and which were removed from the legislation” as it made its way through committees in both houses.