Georgia's New 'Guns Everywhere' Law Is Just The Start — Which State Will Broaden Its Firearm Laws Next?
Bars just got a little more armed in Georgia, where Republican Governor Nathan Deal has signed a sweeping gun carry bill into law. Called the "Safe Carry Protection Act," and derided by its critics as the "guns everywhere" law, it's just one of a spate of efforts in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country to slacken restrictions on gun sales, and where they may be taken. It allows for guns to be carried into a raft of new places — mainly schools, bars, and churches, with a few stipulations.
Under the new law, religious sites like churches, mosques or synagogues will be able to opt-in to allowing gun carry on their premises, while bars will have to opt-out if they want to keep their clientele unarmed. It'll also allow school districts will get to decide whether to arm some of their employees, and let people carry their guns into some government buildings which they previously couldn't.
It has, in short, left the state with some of the most relaxed laws on gun carry in the nation. And it's far from the only pro-gun legislative action brewing right now — in the year and months since the Sandy Hook school shooting which for a time galvanized national attention, conservative state legislators are pushing similar such measures, to varying degrees of success.
By December 2013, 22 other states had already passed new laws expanding gun carry rights, and in spite of the popularity of some other areas of the gun control debate — background checks and assault weapons bans in particular — none passed new carry restrictions.
Pro-gun activists just missed scoring a double-goal Wednesday, in fact, as the Arizona legislature passed two highly-controversial bills which were ultimately vetoed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer — the third time in four years she'd done so. One of them would have made officials liable personally if they passed gun statutes at the local level that were more restrictive than state law, while the other would have allowed guns in public buildings or at events that didn't have security guards or metal detector screenings.
Nor does is nationwide march of public, unrestricted gun carry effort limited to the legislative branch. California, the most populous state in the country, largely had its restrictions tossed out by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February. The court ruled that the state's allowance of difference county-by-county regulations on firearms was in violation of the Second Amendment.
In short, the political war over guns in America, even a tumultuous issue, is being fought on all fronts by their most ardent supporters, in states and courtrooms alike. And if their goal is to let people freely carry guns around in any old time or place, relatively hassle-free? They're winning.