Georgia, the home state of Ray Charles, President Jimmy Carter, Jasper Johns, Deforest Kelly, Martin Luther King Jr, Alice Walker, Burt Reynolds, Otis Redding, and Hulk Hogan, became the first in the country to allow residents with gun permits to pack heat just about anywhere – in bars, houses of worship, schools, and even airports. Dubbed the “guns everywhere” bill, it passed the Georgia state legislature by 112-58 in the House and 37-18 in the Senate, despite majority opposition from Georgians.
As outrageous as the law sounds, it does have some restrictions. A house of worship would have to authorize “armed” services. I’m not sure how many priests, pastors, imams and rabbis would invite worshipers to bear arms inside their institutions, but no doubt a few would – “praise the lord and pass the ammunition”. Maybe they would have a shotluck dinner at the conclusion of services. Do rest assured that pub owners would also have to approve of guns and “shots” before an armed patron could enter the establishment and proceed to get “loaded”. I am not sure that guns and drinks mix, but if the saloon owner doesn’t mind the place being shot up every Saturday night, I suppose that is his or her own business. As for armed schools, it would be up to the local school or school board to decide who, if anyone, would be allowed to carry a gun on the premises. Frankly, I think a “militarized” public school zone with metal detectors, armed security guards, loudspeakers, cameras and microphones would confuse kids into thinking they are in a prison rather than an educational institution. And the thought of an armed teacher is too much to bear. I can imagine the principal having to come around on occasion and take away some teachers’ bullets for accidentally discharging the weapons in class, kind of like Sheriff Taylor had to do with Barney from time to time – take away his one bullet. While it may seem extreme that a licensed gun owner can carry a weapon to a Georgia airport, including Atlanta Hartsfield, the world’s busiest, know that guns would only be permitted in areas outside security checks. But why would anyone bring a gun to an airport unless they had bad intentions? From a practical standpoint, I guess it would give him a built in advantage in a long line say at the coffee shop, but it could cause a confrontation and blood to spill rather than coffee. The law should be amended so that there would be an express line for gun holders. One piece of advice to cashiers: if the gun holder says he gave you a $50 dollar bill, HE GAVE YOU A $50 DOLLAR BILL. According to the new law, airports would need to have signs indicating where guns are and are not permitted. I can see the sign now – one with a pistol and another with a pistol and a line through it.
I don’t know who wrote the bill, probably some attorney for the NRA, but it is poorly written with gaping holes and inconsistencies. First, the fine for shooting big game out of season or turkeys with the wrong caliber weapon is now $250, and the gun owner’s license would be revoked for 3 years. By comparison, the fine for being caught with a weapon at a security checkpoint at an airport would be a misdemeanor with a fine of $100. Actually, a gun wielding traveler with a permit could say that he “forgot” that he had “packed” a weapon and could simply leave the area to be screened elsewhere and not be charged with a misdemeanor or a fine. Interestingly, law enforcement personnel cannot ask to see someone’s permit to carry. One would think to keep everybody honest, police would be allowed to do periodic spot checks. Lastly, the law appears to make it easier to obtain a permit to carry. It provides a long section of relief from licensing exceptions including giving the superintendent of a mental institution the power to approve a request for a license made by former patients. Also, residents who have had their licenses revoked can reapply after 4 years. And 18 year olds who are in the military can apply for a license.
Any law that promotes gun ownership benefits the NRA and gun manufacturers. And any candidate running for public office who supports gun “rights” will have the full support of the NRA to help them get elected and stay in power. And while the NRA and Georgia Republicans argue that the new gun law is a victory for the 2nd amendment (which doesn’t say anything at all about the right of an individual to brandish a loaded gun in the public town square), it appears that the real victors here are big game, including bears, alligators and deer, oh, and the spirited wild turkey.