The fact that the vote came shortly after the spa shootings was something Democrats highlighted in opposing the bill.
“We don’t have to live like this,” said Sen. Elena Parent, an Atlanta Democrat. “We don’t have to see three establishments shot up and eight people dead in our state. We don’t have to live in fear of the next mass shooting.”
Canton Republican Rep. Mandi Ballinger initially proposed HB 218 to make it legally easier for travelers to bring their guns into the state.
Senators amended the legislation during the committee process to allow probate judges to process gun carry licenses and license renewals online. Currently, applicants must go to the court in person. The legislation also prohibits the governor from closing weapons manufacturers or shooting ranges during a public emergency.
The Senate also voted 34-18 to amend HB 218 to include a proposal from state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, to bar the governor from enacting any guidelines that “specifically limit the practice of any religion” during a declared state of emergency. Businesses and nonprofits also would be able to operate as long as they meet safety protocols as established by the governor.
The measure now heads back to the House for its consideration.