Georgia becomes the Great Equalizer

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“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,
the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment is the floor on gun rights.  Georgia’s Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 just made it the geographical epicenter. Some opposing the bill, including Georgia law enforcement, call it the “guns everywhere bill.” There’s some truth in that statement.

The Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 in a nutshell

The Act, simplified, tells Georgia residents were they can carry their weapons. The Act allows residents who have concealed carry permits to take their weapons into some bars, school zones, churches, government buildings (that don’t have security) and certain parts of airports — that would include Atlanta Hartsfield, undoubtedly the busiest airport in the country, if not the world.

TSA lines? Not excluded. Neither are airport general parking areas, walkways, or shops and areas of the terminal that are outside the screening checkpoint. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and bars share a special burden starting July 1. They get to decide on whether they want their customers and worshipers toting guns. What happens if you bring your weapon unknowingly into a “no gun zone” place of worship or bar? You’ll likely not get arrested, but could face a monetary fine. If you don’t have a license, you could get slapped with a misdemeanor.

The law will also allow guns on the person of any “duly authorized official of a public or private elementary or secondary school or a public or private technical school, vocational school, college, university, or other institution of post-secondary education or a local board of education.” Translation: school officials get to have hot debates on whether to arm school officials and teachers.

What about law enforcement? The law forbids police officers who see anyone carrying a gun to ask for proof of a permit unless the officer has “probable cause.” Translation: An officer can’t simply be suspicious. It’s not enough. They’ll have to catch you committing a crime before asking for proof of a permit.

Databases of licensed owners: Gone.

Fingerprinting for renewing carry permits: Eliminated.

What are the implications?

While the Act applies to those residents carrying permits, who have undergone a background check, it gives greater latitude for these same 500,000 residents to protect themselves and others from those who pose a threat. In essence, it gives greater expansion to “stand your ground” in Georgia.  According to USA Today, “The gun rights group believes the bill will “restore our right to carry and be allowed to protect ourselves anywhere we go,” according to executive director Jerry Henry. He’s right. “Anywhere” includes city halls, libraries, city office buildings, fire stations, churches, bars, the airport … potentially anywhere and everywhere.

Most troubling is a provision of the bill that waives criminal prosecution of felons who use illegal firearms in the act of self-defense. Translation:  if you’re a felon and feel threatened and kill someone with a gun, you can now “stand your ground” just about anywhere you go.