Last evening, upon watching the national evening news, I was shocked to learn that Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal signed a new bill, called the Safe Carry Protection Act, into law, going into effect as of July 1, 2014. Georgia House Bill 60 will allow permitted gun bearers to keep and carry guns into many churches, schools zones, portions of airports, government buildings, and bars. Representative Doug Holt of Georgia’s 112th district introduced the legislation. It has been stated that the gun lobby initiated and secured the enactment of this law, with many critics being strongly against it. I am also one of those critics who is strongly against it.
An attorney in Georgia once told me that it is better not to keep or bear arms. Why? Because doing so creates the potential of using them, and of injuring others and/or taking their lives. While I believe it is certainly important for people to have the ability to protect themselves, there is no need to expand gun rights in the United States. Business owners, school officials, and church leaders should not be forced to be responsible to make decisions regarding whether or not people are able to carry guns onto their property and into their buildings. It should be a no-brainer that people should not be allowed to carry guns into these venues, unless they are highly trained, and are paid as security personnel or police to maintain the safety of the venue.
What is also important to keep in mind is that just because a person carries a gun, does not mean that he or she is trained in using firearms, nor has the self-control necessary to make decisions that are in the best interests of everyone should a situation become heated or violent. Further, anyone could walk into a venue, carrying a gun, and not have a legitimate permit. It seems to me that the “Safe Carry Protection Act” only creates the potential for environments that are less safe and less protected. Owning, having, carrying, and maintaining guns only creates the higher potential for using them, and therefore, for seriously injuring or killing people. More guns means more potential for violence, period.
In his speech at Ellijay, Georgia yesterday, Governor Deal quoted Thomas Jefferson as well as the United States Constitution on many occasions. He basically affirmed Jefferson’s values and beliefs related to Americans having the right to keep and bear arms, in order to protect themselves from the tyranny of the government. Is our government tyrannical? I thought we lived in a republic that practiced democratic values. Must people be handed the right to keep and bear arms everywhere? Indeed, critics of the new law have dubbed it the “guns everywhere” law. Allowing a greater number of people to legally carry guns into so many venues creates the potential for a lawless state. In Georgia, the right to keep and bear arms has appeared to become the foremost of its citizens inalienable rights, and wrongly so. My legislators have not correctly supported or promoted my beliefs and values regarding these measures.
Have the people so quickly forgotten the many tragedies that have occurred throughout our nation as a result of the use of guns to injure and kill others? Those tragedies, on a national scale, that quickly come to mind include those at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Columbine experienced the killings of 15 individuals, including the shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. In Newtown, Adam Lanza killed 28 people, including himself, on a tragic day when our nation lost so many innocent children and dedicated educators.
Another incident that comes to mind is when I was a teacher in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and a young teenaged boy hijacked a car, placing the vehicle’s owner at gunpoint, then driving the car to the school at which I worked, and entering the school that was in session for the day. The school went on lockdown, and police with dogs searched the school for the boy. It was believed that he was armed when he entered the school (although he was not armed at that time), and when he attempted to flee the school, police had their guns drawn on him as he attempted escape through a side exit. It is because of incidents such as these that better security is needed at our nation’s schools, for example, rather than allowing seemingly anyone to carry guns almost where ever they please.
In short, if more people are allowed to legally carry guns into more buildings and venues in Georgia, including government buildings, schools, and churches, then I will definitely feel more uncomfortable, less safe, and less protected. Further, allowing guns to be carried into bars only creates the potential for more harm to occur. We already know that mixing alcohol with weapons has the potential to cause violence, such violence that is unnecessary. Indeed, many people will likely feel much less safe and protected in the very locations and venues in which such protections are virtually guaranteed, such as particular government buildings for example.
Expanding gun laws and rights in Georgia – or anywhere in the United States, for that matter – is a step backward, not forward. We no longer live in the 1700s, where it was “every man for himself.” Our government is not tyrannical, and we do not need to protect ourselves from it with guns. In fact, it is our government on which we rely for protections against those who do not abide by reasonable laws. The Safe Carry Protection Act is not a reasonable law. This law has proceeded to throw the baby out with the bath water, and takes Georgia one step further into creating a lawless state in which it will, again, be every person for themself. Repeal this law before it is too late, causing more lives to be needlessly lost because of it.
Columbine High School massacre (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved on April 24, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre
Copeland, L., & Richards, D. (April 23, 2014). Ga. governor signs ‘guns everywhere’ into law. USA Today. Retrieved on April 24, 2014 from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/23/georgia-gun-law/8046315/
Georgia House of Representatives (2014). Doug Holt. Atlanta, GA: Georgia House of Representatives. Retrieved on April 24, 2014 from http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/member.aspx?Member=128
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved on April 24, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting
Sayers, D.M., & McLaughlin, E.C. (April 23, 2014). Georgia law allows guns in some schools, bars, churches. Atlanta, Georgia: CNN.com. Retrieved on April 24, 2014 from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/23/us/georgia-governor-signs-gun-bill/index.html