Proposals would lift restrictions on carrying guns in Georgia

An incoming freshman House Republican from Kennesaw has become the first since the Connecticut shootings to propose an expansion of gun rights in Georgia.

State Rep.-elect Charles Gregory, who campaigned heavily on the Second Amendment and limited government power, filed four gun bills this week at the Capitol that would sweep away any restrictions on carrying firearms in Georgia — including on college campuses and in churches.

House Bills 26, 27, 28 and 29 would declare that “evil resides in the heart of the individual, not in material objects,” and would also bar the governor from suspending gun sales during an emergency.

It’s a splashy public entrance for Gregory in advance of the next legislative session, which starts Jan. 14. The bills, however, have not been vetted by leadership and are likely to go nowhere on their own. A spokesman for House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said it would be inappropriate to comment on the issue while victims were still being buried in Newtown, Conn.

The bills follow the failure in the state House during this past year’s legislative session of a sweeping proposal to allow Georgians to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, in bars, public schools, most government buildings and other locations.

Another proposal backed by the National Rifle Association to allow hunters to use gun silencers also went nowhere during the session.

Under current Georgia law, students can’t keep weapons in dorms or classrooms, but they may keep them locked in their cars.

State law also prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from carrying a gun for purposes other than hunting.

Lawmakers previously had passed a bill in 2010 that expanded where those with concealed-carry permits could take their guns, but churches, colleges and schools were excluded from that law.

The shootings last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown killed 20 children and six adults.

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