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Georgia lawmakers to discuss gun rights expansion

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ATLANTA -

Lawmakers at the state Capitol could debate an expansion of gun rights.  The sponsor of a bill involving guns and school security introduced his measure as the General Assembly went into session this week.

State Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) says he has received extensive support in the Georgia House for his bill allowing school administrators to have concealed guns in schools, at school functions and on school buses.

"This is not a gun bill. This is not a Second Amendment right bill. What this is a school safety bill," Battles said.

He emphasizes that the decision to arm administrators would be left to local school boards and would involve training and certification.

"What we wanted to do is we wanted to have a line or another level of security in schools that presently does not have a security officer in them," Battles said.

Democratic lawmakers argue allowing guns in school would increase danger and not security. Democrats, including House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, will call for an increased focus on gun safety issues.

"We need to look at mental illness. We need to look at ‘Stand Your Ground' laws. We need to make certain that we are protecting every member of society without infringing upon Second Amendment," Abrams said.

Democrats said that there should be increased importance placed on background checks .

"If we are concerned about the mentally unstable, and if we are concerned about criminals getting their hands on guns we have to do something about the background check," said state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).

Two years ago, state lawmakers increased the number of areas where gun owners with permits could carry their weapons, but guns are still not allowed in churches and schools.

Other bills have been filed in this year's legislative session to remove many of those restrictions. One of the bills introduced at the state capitol would allow students with permits to carry concealed guns on college campuses.

Republicans have big majorities in the state House and Senate, but it's unclear whether legislative leaders will allow the gun bills to move forward this year.

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