Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new gun law Wednesday that greatly expands the number of public places where licensed owners are allowed to carry their weapons. Critics have called the law “extreme,” while the National Rifle Association lauded it as an “historic victory for the Second Amendment. What does the Safe Carry Protection Act really do? Here’s a brief list of the major changes ahead for Georgians when the law takes effect July 1:
Before the new law, gun owners were not allowed to bring their firearms into bars unless the bar owner specifically allowed it. But under the Safe Carry Protection Act, the emphasis is reversed. A patron can bring guns into bars unless the owner tells him or her to leave.
Church leaders will now be able to decide whether to allow their congregations to bring guns into their buildings. Right now, bringing guns into houses of worship is illegal. Under the Safe Carry Protection Act, if a gun license holder brings a gun into church against the wishes of that church’s leaders, the gun owner will be fined $100. If a non-license holder brings a gun to that same church, he or she will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Local school boards will now be allowed to vote on whether they want to let teachers and other members of the school’s staff bring guns to campus. The staff members will apply to the school board, and they will go through training that includes “judgment pistol shooting,” “marksmanship,” and a review of Georgia’s laws about shooting people to defend yourself and others. If a teacher doesn’t want to carry the gun at all times, he or she will have to store it in a safe or lock box. Previously, a licensed owner could bring a gun to school if an “authorized official of the school” gave permission.
Licensed gun owners will be allowed to have firearms in airport common areas and if they accidentally bring their guns to airport security checkpoints, they will be allowed to pick up their weapon and leave without criminal penalty. They will not, of course, be able to take their gun past the TSA checkpoint, which remains a federal matter.
5) Government buildings
Licensed gun owners will be allowed to bring their weapons into unsecured government buildings -- in other words, those buildings that don't have security checkpoints or metal detectors. Supporters say this provision was intended to help rural counties that don't have the funds to hire full-time security personnel. Gun owners still won't be able to bring weapons into, say, Atlanta City Hall or the Georgia State Capitol.
6) No database of gun owners
The law will prevent the state of Georgia from creating and maintaining a database of licensed owners.
7) No fingerprinting
The law will eliminate the fingerprinting requirement for renewing weapons carry licenses.
First published April 23 2014, 8:09 AM
Gabe Gutierrez is an NBC News correspondent based in Atlanta, Ga. He joined the network in March 2012, and reports for all platforms of NBC News, including "TODAY," "Nightly News with Brian Williams," MSNBC, NBCLatino.com, and NBCNews.com, as well as Telemundo.
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Gutierrez came to NBC News from KHOU 11 News in Houston, Texas, where he worked as the station's City Hall reporter. Prior to working in Houston, Gabe was a weekend morning anchor and reporter at WJRT-TV, the ABC station in Flint, Mich. While at WJRT, he regularly produced and hosted the station's public affairs program in addition to covering the state legislature and the auto industry. His first on-air job was at WBOY-TV, the NBC affiliate in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where he anchored weekend newscasts and reported during the week. While in college, Gutierrez interned at Telemundo in South Florida and at ABC News' satellite feed in Chicago.
Gutierrez was named "Best Reporter" in 2009 by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He also won an Emmy for his investigation into what several banks called one of the largest mortgage schemes ever in the state. The Associated Press also honored him for breaking news coverage and investigative reporting.
Originally from Miami, Gutierrez graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism with a double major in political science. He is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.