Gun rights law fails to pass during Georgia session

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Patrick Filbin, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
·2 min read
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Apr. 2—A bill that would have loosened Georgia law to allow anyone from any state who has a concealed weapons permit to carry their gun in Georgia failed to move forward this legislative session.

House Bill 218 also would have prohibited gun permitting, gun sales and shooting ranges from being shut down in a state of emergency.

State Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, was a co-sponsor of the bill but could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The bill faced criticism due to its timing. Just two weeks after eight people were killed in three Atlanta-area spas, the bill passed the Georgia Senate 34-18 on a party-line vote with Republicans in support of the measure.

Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, was one of the vocal lawmakers who spoke out against the bill, especially with it passing so soon after the shootings.

"We don't have to see three establishments shot up and eight people dead in our state," Parent said on the Senate floor. "We don't have to live in fear of the next mass shooting."

As the bill hit a wall, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Ellijay, said the timing of the bill, two weeks after mass shootings in Atlanta and Colorado, wasn't right for him, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The bill also had gun owner protection rights such as not allowing the governor to take away ammunition, other weapons like crossbows, and reloading equipment such as speedloaders or magazines, during a state of emergency.

"I thought we needed to be very, very sensitive to [the timing of] any gun legislation," Ralston said.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee a permitless gun carry bill steamrolled through the Legislature despite opposition from law enforcement officials.

That bill allows law-abiding Tennesseans to go armed without background checks or basic weapon training.

Senators voted 23-9 to pass the bill, sending the measure to the House of Representatives to consider. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Sheriffs Association and other groups such as Moms Demand Action opposed the bill throughout the process.

Ralston said Wednesday that he understands criticism might come Republicans' way after the bill failed to pass.

"I'll take any criticism that comes, and we'll deal with it," he said. "There's always another day to talk about these things."

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.