April 23, 2014
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) just signed a law former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-AZ) organization described as “the most extreme gun bill in America.” The new law allows guns in bars, churches, nightclubs and libraries. It eliminates criminal charges against people who accidentally bring guns into airports or other buildings where guns are prohibited. It expands Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law so that felons may invoke this defense. And it permits certain schoolteachers and administrators to carry firearms inside their schools.
The new law is actually more moderate than an earlier draft of the legislation, which would have limited the punishment for carrying a gun on college campuses and which did not include a provision requiring people who want to bring a gun to worship services to obtain permission to do so. Nevertheless, the bill demonstrates how rapidly gun politics shifted to the right in Georgia. Last year, a less comprehensive bill allowing guns in bars and places of worship passed the Georgia house but failed to clear the state senate.
The provision authorizing guns in bars is especially likely to result in an uptick of violence. According to Washington State University Sociology Professor Jennifer Schwartz, “40% of male [homicide] offenders were drinking alcohol at the time” of their offense, and about one in three female offenders were also drinking.