Georgia legislators are considering two gun bills aimed at removing carry restrictions. The State House Public Safety Committee held a hearing Monday on the proposed gun legislation.
One would repeal the government's restriction on carrying firearms in places of worship. The second lifts the ban on carrying guns on Georgia's university and college campuses.
House Bill 29, which concerns weapons on campus, was introduced by Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw).
"The practical effect of gun-free zones is to empower criminals while depriving peaceful, law-abiding citizens of their natural right of self-defense," Gregory told the committee.
The campus carry legislation follows robberies of students at Georgia Tech and other schools.
"It's that point, we should give students a chance to defend themselves. At what point do we draw the line to say our students are too unsafe that we need to be able to provide them that ability to defend themselves and I think we crossed that line," said Robert Eagar with Students for Concealed Carry.
As it stands, carrying a weapon into a place of worship is a misdemeanor. But, a number of Georgia pastors support being able to carry a weapon in the sanctuary, even taking to YouTube to get their message to the public.
"It seems that people who would do ill will recognize that when the most innocent among us are injured, that sends a greater shock. To have someone on campus armed and ready to defend in case of an emergency puts us outside the law," said Dr. Tony Romans of North Peachtree Baptist Church.
Those opposed to easing the restrictions say the public would best be served by beefing up gun safety laws like background checks.
"If we're concerned about the mentally unstable, if we're concerned about criminals getting their hands on guns, we have to do something about the background checks," said State Senator Vincent Fort, (D), District 39.
The University System of Georgia opposes a change in the law, which bans guns from school campuses.
"Our feeling is that the best way to protect our students and employees is allow that to be done by our sworn officers and our certified public safety officers," said Tom Daniel of the University System of Georgia.
The House committee has said it will not take votes on the gun bills at Monday's hearing.
Link: HB 28 -- would repeal the government's restriction on carrying firearms in places of worship.
Link: HB 29 -- would repeal the government's prohibition on carrying on Georgia's college and university campuses