There is currently a bill before the Georgia State Senate that would expand rights related to guns. The bill (HB 875) has gained a lot of attention, particularly for the expansion of rights for property owners of churches and bars to determine whether patrons can carry weapons. The law is much more expansive and detailed, however. In fact, there are at least 16 different substantive expansions of gun rights within the current legislation. This has some people calling this legislation “the most dangerous gun bill in the United States.”
About one-third of Americans own guns, with an estimated 270 million weapons existing within the United States. According to recent surveys, those most likely to own a gun are married men living the South. The reason as to why Americans own guns has shifted over time. In 1999, the primary reason for gun ownership was cited as hunting. That has now shifted; gun owners now cite safety as the top reason for owning a weapon. Ironically enough, the top reason people want to restrict gun rights in America is also safety.
The attempt to expand gun rights in Georgia is also reflective of an overall trend of states asserting their sovereign right to create laws that potentially cause tension with the federal government. This seems to be the case with some of the most charged issues including abortion, marijuana, gay marriage and gun rights.
The balance of our rights versus security and safety is often a difficult one to achieve. Discussing bills such as HB 875 is important because it demonstrates the nuances within the debate over our liberties. Are there some reasonable limits on our right to keep and bear arms, as protected by the Second Amendment? We must recognize and appreciate that both sides are striving for the same goal, which is safety, and then work together to find the appropriate balance while maintaining our freedoms.
New version of HB 875
Georgia Carry: Here is what is in House Bill 875
Handgun Laws in Georgia
Wikipedia: Concealed carry in the United States
Pew Research: Perspectives of Gun Owners, Non-Owners
Gallup: Men, Married, Southerners Most Likely to Be Gun Owners
American Voters Back “Stand Your Ground,” Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds
Gun poll: Majority want no weapons in high schools or colleges
Small Arms Survey: Estimating Civilian Owned Firearms
Fact Sheet: Georgia Gun Violence