Georgia ReportNews

The Unintended Consequences of Georgia’s ‘Guns Everywhere’ Law

It’s official: Gov. Nathan Deal last week signed the “guns everywhere” bill that expands the public areas where persons can legally take firearms. The governor’s action prompted differing reactions from different groups.

Jody Hice, a talk show host who’s running for Congress, was so excited about the new law that he announced he was giving away a “His and Hers” combination of two Smith & Wesson handguns to the lucky winner of a drawing. “Instead of letting liberals take your guns, let a true conservative give you two for free,” Hice said.

Outside the bill’s circle of supporters, the exhilaration was much more subdued. In various media accounts, the new law was described as “radical,” “reckless,” “the most extreme gun bill in America,” and “out of the mainstream.” 

What will be the consequences of allowing more firearms in public venues? Let’s look at some incidents that have happened recently.

In Aurora, CO, a high school student was accidentally shot in the leg by a school employee who worked after-hours as an armed security guard. That could happen in Georgia: The new law authorizes school officials to give a teacher or an employee permission to carry a firearm in a school building.

In Cullman County, AL, Tommy “T. J.” Tucker was shot and killed last January by another hunter who heard him rustling in the underbrush, mistook Tucker for a deer and fired at him. That could happen in Georgia: The new law allows hunters to use silencers, making it impossible for other people to know they’re in the vicinity of a hunting party.

On Jan. 19, five people were wounded when firearms were accidentally discharged at gun shows in North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana. The gun shows were being held as part of “National Gun Appreciation Day” festivities. That could happen in Georgia: The new law prohibits local governments from regulating gun shows “in any manner.”

In Wichita, KS, an anti-abortion militant walked into the Reformation Lutheran Church, where he shot and killed one of the church ushers. The usher, George Tiller, was a physician who had performed abortions, a medical procedure that has been legal since a 1973 Supreme Court ruling. Similar incidents could happen in Georgia: The new law allows firearms to be carried in churches if the church leadership has agreed to “opt in” to the law’s provision.

In Kalamazoo, MI, a 23-year-old man was shot and killed after getting into an argument in a bar. A witness said, “one guy took his glass and smashed it on the other guy’s face, and then seconds later the guy with the glass smashed on his face took out his gun and was walking towards him, shooting him multiple times.” That could happen in Georgia: The new law allows you to bring firearms into a bar or tavern, unless the owner decides to “opt out” of the law’s provision.

When he signed House Bill 60 into law, Deal remarked, “The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should be at the forefront of our minds.” That’s an interesting comment, considering that the governor and the legislators who passed the gun law work in a capitol building where visitors are absolutely prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights. There are metal detectors at every entrance, and the capitol building is constantly patrolled by state troopers and police.

Deal and the lawmakers know it is a terrible idea to allow firearms to be carried freely in any public venue. That is obvious by the security they insist upon in the building where they carry out their official duties. They are not about to put themselves in the same danger that Georgia citizens will now have to contend with under the state’s expansive new gun law.