In yet another illustration of a major schism cleaving America’s soul, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal today put his signature on what is being called the “most extreme gun bill in America,” allowing the weapons to be carried in schools, churches and even bars — at a time when a large part of the country is trying to reduce the number of guns on the streets.
Each week seemingly brings another high-profile gun massacre — the latest occurred earlier this month at the Fort Hood military base in Texas when 34-year-old military truck driver Spec. Ivan Lopez killed three soldiers and injured 16 others before killing himself. But as groups like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns try to stop the flow of weapons, states like Georgia are moving in the opposite direction.
The official name for the new Georgia law, which would go into effect July 1, is the “Safe Carry Protection Act.” But to many it goes by a nickname: the “Guns Everywhere Bill.”
The Georgia law is even opposed by law enforcement in the state. Frank Rotondo, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said, “Police officers do not want more people carrying guns on the street, particularly police officers in inner city areas.”
This hasn’t moved the bill’s sponsor, Georgia state Rep. Rick Jasperse (R.-Jasper), who insisted his bill was not “extreme.” Jasperse said he just wants to restore Second Amendment rights and allow licensed gun owners to carry their weapons in more places.
“When we limit a Georgian’s ability to carry a weapon—to defend themselves—we’re empowering the bad guys,” Jasperse said.
The National Rifle Association called the passage of the bill a “historic victory for the Second Amendment.”
It was the Second Amendment that retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had in mind when he wrote in his new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” that the Constitution needs a five-word change to the Second Amendment. Stevens wants to add the words “when serving in the Militia” so that it would read: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms – when serving in the Militia – shall not be infringed.”
Stevens said the original intention of the founders was not to grant a general right to bear arms to all citizens.
Georgia Gov. Deal clearly has political calculations foremost in his mind with the new law, as he is running for his second term this fall and facing a GOP primary challenge on May 20. But this is Georgia, so even gubernatorial challenger Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter—grandson of President Jimmy Carter—voted for the bill. But in Carter’s defense, his office said he helped strip the bill of some of its more controversial provisions, like allowing guns on college campuses.
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, of the more than 1,500 gun-related bills introduced around the country last year, only 123 became law. And while 10 states have enacted laws strengthening gun regulations, nine states—including Georgia—have loosened regulations.