Georgia senators passed legislation Tuesday that makes changes to a 2014 bill expanding gun rights in the state, but they declined to make changes suggested by Gov. Nathan Deal to fix a controversial “campus carry” bill passed earlier this year.
House Bill 1060, passed by a 37-18 vote, was designed as a cleanup bill to legislation from two years ago deemed the “guns everywhere” bill.
Before Tuesday’s passage, the bill was amended by a Senate committee to include provisions from other minor guns bills that had been proposed this legislative session. One of those provisions, known as the “Georgia Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act” prevents banks from refusing to offer financial services to firearms dealers.
State Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, who initially proposed that provision, said it was needed to combat a federal Department of Justice program known as Operation Choke Point that he said resulted in some gun dealers being rejected for services by banks.
State Sen. Emanuel Jones decried the updated version of the bill. “I’m appalled that this includes something for our banking institutions that I don’t think has been mandated before,” said Jones, R-Decatur, who noted that banking industry representatives were angry about the requirement. “This is tantamount to nothing more than a hijacking.”
Earlier Tuesday, senators voted to prevent floor amendments from being made to HB 1060, which could have been used to implement some of the changes to campus carry legislation requested by Gov. Nathan Deal.
The campus carry bill, House Bill 859, was passed earlier this session by both chambers. It would allow anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for inside dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses, and at athletic events. It also would mandate that the weapons be concealed, which adds a layer of safety, proponents say. Concealed carry permits require fingerprinting and background checks.
Last week, the governor said he wanted lawmakers to consider exempting on-campus child care centers from the “campus carry” legislation. Deal also expressed concerns about high school students who are joint-enrolled in college courses on campuses that would allow firearms.
Despite Deal’s concerns — and opposition from a litany of Democratic lawmakers, college leaders and the faith community — House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said this week that he expected no new legislation addressing the governor’s concerns to move in the final two days of the legislative session.
With the campus carry bill already passed, the minor gun bill, House Bill 1060 was thought to possibly be a vehicle to address some of Deal’s concerns. But by engrossing the bill Tuesday, the state Senate ensured that bill could not be amended on the floor. With the final two days of the legislative session today and Thursday, changes could still be made either by the House or in a conference committee of a small group of lawmakers from each chamber.
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