Gun shops and police at odds over concealed weapon permit bill - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Gun shops and police at odds over concealed weapon permit bill

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

One Georgia lawmaker is keeping good on his promise to pre-file a bill proposing to concealed weapons without a permit.

The news making some noise in the Savannah community.

300,000 people have gun permits in Georgia. The counties generate revenue from the permit sales. Police organizations, including Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department, think permits help keep criminals away from guns.

So, why change it now?

Some representatives in Georgia think the permits restrict the right to bear arms and are an obstacle to self defense. Gun shop owners that WTOC spoke to agree, but Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Willie Lovett does not. 

Joe Skull carries a concealed weapon and he has a permit.

"I have a Georgia weapons carry license. Had one for 5 years," Skull said.

Skull also works at Patrick's Gun Range in Garden City, where they sell guns and train people how to use them.

"When you purchase a gun, you go through a federal background check, so there is no need to repeat the process to be issued a permit," Skull said.

Patrick's Uniforms, along with a few other local gun shops, seemed to all be in favor of allowing gun owners to have a concealed weapon without the permit.

"They have done it in Arizona, Alaska and Vermont and with no negative repercussions," Skull said.

"I could care less about how difficult they make it to get guns," Chief Lovett told WTOC. "I am totally opposed to it. I'm just not an advocate for making things easier for criminals."

Chief Lovett says eliminating weapons permits also puts his officers in harm's way.

"To confront someone who shouldn't have a weapon at all, yet, not know if they have a permit for that weapon puts us in a bad situation," Lovett said.

"Criminals don't need a permit to carry a gun, why should law abiding citizens," Skull said.

The chief and gun shops may be at odds over this issue, but for Skull, he thinks honest gun owners deserve a break.

"We are not just pulling them out in unnecessary situations," Skull said.

"You want to make it easier to sell guns. That's not the business I am in," Lovett said, when asked about the concerns gun shop owners had.

The Georgia Gun Owners sent an email to all of their members and lawmakers urging them to support the bill. Meanwhile, Georgians for Gun Safety made similar efforts to block the bill from being passed.

The bill also includes allowing someone to carry a knife, more than 5 inches long and not visible, without a permit.

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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