GA lawmakers backing expanded gun carrying rights - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

GA lawmakers backing expanded gun carrying rights

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GEORGIA (WRCB) -- Some Georgia lawmakers are pushing for new gun legislation that would allow people to carry guns in more places like churches and schools. It also pushes to allow mental health patients to apply for a license to carry.

Georgia House members voted 117 to 56, passing House Bill 512, also known as the "Safe Carry Protection Act."

The proposed changes are resulting in mixed opinions across the board.

Georgia House Bill 512 looks to relax certain gun laws. Part of that includes allowing people to carry weapons on certain parts of college campuses.

"I will tell you, coming from our president and our chief safety officers, they're supportive of the law as it stands now," Jodi Johnson with Dalton State College.

Johnson is Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services.

As the law stands now, permit holders are allowed to have guns on a college campus as long as they are locked in the carrier's car in the parking lot, which is good enough for Johnson.

"Part of that is because of the actions we've taken on campus and across the system the past few years. Our public safety officers here are post certified, they carry guns. They're just like a city police officer or county sheriff's department. I feel very comfortable," says Johnson.

Other education officials agree.

Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ronald Jackson issued a statement saying, "I strongly believe that the current law regarding firearms on campus is sufficient and ensures the safety and well-being of everyone at our colleges. If the current gun restrictions are lifted, then our campus law enforcement professionals and local law enforcement will be given new and dangerous challenges of maintaining safety and order with weapons in the hands of potentially tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff."

"I mean, I know people that have guns and don't have a permit," says Dalton State student Crystal Johnson.

Students like Johnson say the proposed law would not make much of a difference.

"Regardless, I think whether we have the laws or not, I think people just carry guns if they want to whether they have a permit or not," says Johnson.

Other students say they would feel comfortable with relaxed gun laws.

"Honestly, I think it'd be better, because you never know what could happen on campus. I think they should be relaxed a little bit," says student Barriana Morris.

The proposed law also recommends people who have had inpatient care at mental hospitals or drug treatment centers within the last five years, be eligible for a license to carry.

Bill 512 now goes to the Georgia Senate for approval.

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