A Georgia gun owner has sued Gov. Brian Kemp and the Fulton County probate judge because the novel coronavirus has led many state courts to suspend the issuance of carry licenses. F. Ron Bailey/Getty Images
A Georgia House subcommittee advanced a bill Wednesday that would let anyone visiting Georgia carry a firearm if they already are licensed in another state.
House Bill 787 would add 18 states to the 32 where Georgia now honors concealed carry permit laws. Georgia now has so-called reciprocity agreements with the 32 states that allow its permit-holding residents to legally carry a firearm while visiting them.
The legislation directs Georgia’s Attorney General to work on reciprocal deals with the 18 new states so Georgians can legally carry weapons there.
“It would allow permit holders from other states to be able to come here more than what they are now,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mandi Ballinger, a Canton Republican. ”It would be good for our hunting and fishing folks as well as some pro-Second Amendment folks.”
On Wednesday, the House’s Public Safety and Homeland Security subcommittee advanced the bill, although some advocates raised public safety concerns.
Georgia’s concealed carry law doesn’t need to be expanded, said Page Rast, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action Georgia chapter.
The bar to legally carry weapons is much lower in some states, which might make it more difficult for police officers and deputies to keep people safe, she said.
“Five (states) do not require the issuer of a permit to use discretion for the gun permit,” Rast said. “This means that local authorities in those five states are not able to have a say in whether a person with a dangerous history is issued a permit.”
The National Rifle Association says the legislation is a way for “law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families.”
A statewide gun rights organization that usually weighs in on Georgia firearms legislation said it’s not taking a position this time.
While the bill benefits licensed gun owners visiting the state, it doesn’t do anything for Georgians, said Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.org.
It’s unlikely that states like California, New York and New Jersey are going to honor Georgia’s concealed carry laws anytime soon, he said.
“We’re not going to oppose (the bill) but we just don’t see where it does us any good,” Henry said.
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