New GA gun law allows guns in some churches, schools, and bars - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

New GA gun law allows guns in some churches, schools, and bars

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Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new bill that vastly expands the number of places where Georgia residents can carry a gun. Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new bill that vastly expands the number of places where Georgia residents can carry a gun.
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(WTVM) -

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new bill that vastly expands the number of places where Georgia residents can carry a gun. The 29-page document was signed into law on April 23.

The biggest takeaway from House Bill 60 is the expansion of the concealed carry law to include churches and places that serve alcohol. Before April 23, residents could not bring a gun into either of those places, even if they have undergone background checks and fingerprinting. We interviewed a church leader last month who is against the change.

"Guns should not be needed in a sanctuary. The sanctuary is a holy place, it's a safe place, it's a set apart place for worship," said Rev. Chuck Hasty of First Presbyterian Columbus.

Georgia senator Josh McKoon is one of the state legislators who voted for the new.

"And I want to be clear, particularly with the church carry part, forty-five states allow that already, so Georgia was really out of step with the rest of the country on that issue."

Senator McKoon adds that no one is forcing churches and bars to allow guns inside. Each individual place can opt-out of the new policy.

"If they think that creates a dangerous situation, they simply post a sign and say weapons are not allowed on premises," says McKoon.

Legitimate gun owners who go against the wishes of a church or bar that bans weapons will face a citation.

The other major change is that schools now have the option to hire armed security guards or resource officers for protection.  But ordinary citizens are still restricted, even if they have concealed carry permits.

"It would not be for the average teacher to be carrying a weapon. It would be for a designated employee to carry it for security purposes."

That part of the law was written with Newtown, Conn. in mind. In December 2012, a gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown and killed 28 people. The staff at the school was completely unarmed.

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