Gun bill hits road blocks in Ga. Senate
by Joshua Sharpe
March 14, 2014 04:00 AM | 3214 views | 3 3 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“It basically empowers the private property owners to make that decision, rather than the state saying, ‘You own a bar; nobody can carry guns in your bar.’ We let you make that decision as a private property owner, rather than be dictated by the state,” said State Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton).
“It basically empowers the private property owners to make that decision, rather than the state saying, ‘You own a bar; nobody can carry guns in your bar.’ We let you make that decision as a private property owner, rather than be dictated by the state,” said State Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton).
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With only two working days left in Georgia’s 2014 legislative session, Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) says the House is likely done compromising with the Senate on a bill that seeks to give churches, bars and — under certain circumstances — schools the option to allow guns.

House Bill 875, with Ballinger as the fourth signer on the bill, is once again hitting road blocks in the Senate after easily passing the House. The story was similar in 2013 when the bill, known as the Safe Carry Protection Act, passed the House and died in the Senate.

The proposed law aims to let private property owners make their own decision on allowing guns, instead of having the government make the call for them, Ballinger said. Local boards of education would also be given the option to arm certain employees.

Ballinger calls the measure “an expansion of Second Amendment rights” and an empowerment for property owners and school boards to form their own stance on guns. Property owners and school boards, rather than the government, are better judges of what effect allowing firearms would have for them, she said.

Critics have criticized the bill, saying guns in more places could lead to more gun violence.

Those pushing the legislation in the House have made concessions to appease their apparently hesitant counterparts in the Senate, where Ballinger says substantial changes were made to the bill in recent days.

The chief concession was abandoning a proposal to decriminalize carrying weapons on college campuses. Those behind the bill were trying to make carrying a gun on college grounds a civil violation, instead of a misdemeanor as it is now, Ballinger said.

“The House is doing everything we can, everything we possibly can to try to get (the bill) passed,” Ballinger said Thursday. “Everyone is very strongly for the bill.”

But she said it doesn’t appear the House will be willing to bend much more.

“I don’t get a sense that we’re willing to give up any more than we already have,” said Ballinger, who was also a signer on the bill in 2013. “It is an expansion of Second Amendment rights, and I think we’re trying to maintain that. If we keep conceding, we’re defeating the purpose.”

As legislators such as Ballinger try to find a way to keep the bill alive, residents and activists are weighing in to make their views on the controversial measure known.

Cherokee political activist Jack Staver of the Northwest Georgia 9/12 Project issued a statement Thursday, saying the bill had unjustly been “gutted” and weakened in the Senate. He urged residents to call their legislators and make their opposition to a more timid version of the bill known.

“They are doing it again!” wrote Staver, who also works as Rep. Sam Moore’s (R-Macedonia) legislative aide. “The Senate has destroyed HB 875 …”

Others in Cherokee County may be happy to see the bill gutted.

“HB 875 is the antithesis of ‘safe carry,’” said Lisa Murad, a vice chair in the Cherokee Democratic Party.

Murad said “the majority of rank-and-file citizens” likely won’t change their habits of where they carry weapons if the bill passes. But she worries those who could be dangerous with guns would be more empowered to carry their weapons in places they previously couldn’t.

She said Georgia already has a high enough rate of gun violence.

For Ballinger, the bill is only hoped to expand Second Amendment rights by taking the power out of the hands of the government and placing it in the hands of the people.

“Anytime you can empower an individual over the government, rather than having the government dictate action or inaction, I think that’s better,” she said.



Comments
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Murad
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March 14, 2014
I appreciate that the Trib included a comment from me for this article;however, as my contribution was paraphrased, I would like to reiterate my actual original response: HB 875 is the antithesis of "safe carry". How can a bill, that would make it particularly attractive and acceptable to carry guns in public places for people with criminal tendencies and the mentally ill with no criminal records to date, be good for our innocent families and children?" GA already ranks 10th highest in the nation for females killed annually - the majority are killed by men using guns. GA also already has the dubious honor of being home to double the people killed by guns than all of the U.S. combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. http://bit.ly/1dqb7X6

If this bill is such a good idea, why did Mandi and her fellow conservatives choose to make themselves and the courts the exceptions? Slyly including the provision that concealed carry is not necessary if security guards are present is simply the legislators pandering to the NRA at the expense of public safety. And how are these legislators earning their taxpayer-paid income as public servants when they fail to serve GA's families, children and residents?
Taurus92
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March 15, 2014
Your statement "How can a bill, that would make it particularly attractive and acceptable to carry guns in public places for people with criminal tendencies and the mentally ill with no criminal records to date, be good for our innocent families and children?" is totally wrong.

This bill is about people that have a Weapons Carry License after being vetted by the FBI, GBI and mental health background checks, NOT people with criminal tendencies or mentally ill. Please read the bill and stop trying to mislead people with false accusations. Many females would like to defend themselves, but people like you keep them defenseless. You are creating your own statistics by keeping them defenseless. Why?
Tim Parker
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March 17, 2014
I believe you want a utopia where men cannot possibly acquire firearms with which to kill women. While you're waiting on that, how about we stop making those women defenseless with make-believe gun free zones? These individuals have an inherent right to defend themselves wherever they may be. Those "with criminal tendencies and the mentally ill" (yourself included, I presume, since you likely only have "no criminal records to date") could care less where the OCGA says you can't legally carry. The only possible deterrent existing is the possibility that she or someone near her may match the attacking force with equal force.

Imagine every liberty you enjoy limited or denied because of what some lunatic might do with that same liberty.

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