Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Action Alert: New Gun Control Legislation

House Bill 257, which was backed by the NRA, passed the Senate on Wednesday evening after two rounds of intense debate. The bill was originally intended to allow constables to carry their firearms into court, but an amendment to the bill could mean fatal consequences for thousands of women throughout the state of Georgia.

It states that a person who has a license to carry a firearm can carry it "in public transportation," as long as it is not a violation of federal law. Additionally, a firearm license holder can't consume alcohol in a restaurant or other eating establishment while carrying a firearm. Under current law, guns can't be carried in any place where alcohol is served.
Thankfully, some of Georgia's lawmakers understand the danger this policy presents to domestic violence survivors.

Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, spoke against the bill."The leading cause of death in domestic violence is gun violence," Orrock said. "Now we're opening up a whole new window to have people carrying guns and imbibing alcoholic beverages." Bartenders and waitresses won't be enforcing the prohibition against drinking and carrying a gun, Orrock said.

Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, said that most of the people who have committed mass killings in America recently were not felons, and likely could have legally carried guns. "We might be asking for a tragedy on MARTA or other transit systems, and it might be the next best place to go for the fellow that is about to drop off the edge," Fort said. "Let's keep guns out of places where they don't belong."

Senator Fort even went so far as to add a third amendment that he knew would ultimately not be approved in order to stall the voting and keep the bill from passing.

Unfortunately, these voices of reason are in the minority. This bill was passed at 7pm on April 3, 2008. Those in the Senate who have said that this bill only affects "law abiding citizens" with permits haven't taken into account the fact that many batterers have no criminal record and could legally obtain a concealed weapons permit. And while many women do not wish to follow through on assault or harassment charges, a weapons charge could still keep a dangerous person off the street or establish a documented pattern of violence. House Bill 257 has dramatically decreased the safety of public spaces, not just for survivors of domestic violence but for everyone in our community. Please contact your representatives and senators and let them know that you oppose this legislation and that it must be repealed.

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