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What Georgia's 'Extreme' New Gun Law Allows

Point by point, the new rules that permit guns in churches, schools, bars and government buildings.

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:

1) Bars

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.

2) Churches

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.

3) Schools

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.

4) Airports

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.