Controversial GA gun law now in effect
Starting Tuesday, people in Georgia can take their guns almost anywhere.
Tuesday, July 1st 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - A controversial gun law went into effect in Georgia Tuesday. The Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act has gained national attention with some calling it the "guns everywhere" law.
Starting July first, licensed carriers can take their guns in more places including some bars, churches, schools and government buildings. The new law expands where legal gun owners with carry licenses can "pack heat." With each location on the list, there are certain guidelines, which law enforcement in Northwest Georgia says is still confusing to many.
"We should be able to carry our guns wherever we need to," Ringgold resident Randy Simpson said.
Ringgold resident Randy Simpson supports the Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act that expands his rights on where he can legally take his gun. He's had a carry license for more than 20 years.
"I've always had one for self protection but never fired it," Simpson said.
Local law enforcement says the majority of licensed carriers only ever pull the trigger at the shooting range. Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson thinks this law won't have a dramatic impact on violent crime or self-defense shootings.
"I don't know that it'll be such a great impact that we will be able to see it in numbers or statistics," Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said.
The new law covers carrying in government buildings, but not those manned by a security officer.
Taking a gun into church is only allowed if the church's governing body allows it.
"Just a lot of violent people and a lot of people that like to make a name for themselves apparently and they like to find soft targets like schools and churches," Northwest Georgia and Lookout Valley Baptist Associations' Eddy Rushing said.
The Northwest Georgia and Lookout Valley Baptist Associations say none of its 60 pastors has opted in yet, but some say if they do, they'll assign specific members they trust to be responsible.
"If you don't have the right people with the guns it could be a problem. If you have a Barney Fife you might end up with more problems and somebody innocent getting hurt," Rushing said.
The Roman Catholic Church says it does not support the bill at all.
Schools also have the choice to opt in, though no local districts have openly expressed interest.
The location the state sheriff's association fought against allowing guns in, is a bar, fearing the mix of alcohol and weapons. But they lost and it is now legal. The bar owner does have the right, though, to kick someone out for it.
Law enforcement also lost the right to request to see someone's license if they suspect they're not carrying their gun legally.