While some states push to tighten gun control laws after the Connecticut school massacre, some lawmakers in gun-friendly Georgia want to ease rules preventing some mentally ill people from getting licenses to carry firearms.
Legislators in Georgia's House voted 117-56 on Thursday to allow people who have voluntarily sought inpatient treatment for mental illness or substance abuse to get licenses. The same bill also attempts to make it easier for officials to check on whether applicants have ever received involuntary treatment. Georgia also may change its laws to allow people to carry guns in churches, bars and on college campuses, contrary to what's happening elsewhere in the United States.
Judges in Georgia now have discretion over whether to grant a license to carry a weapon to anyone who has received inpatient treatment at a mental hospital or substance abuse treatment center in the last five years, whether it's voluntary or not.
"Simply being hospitalized doesn't make a person a criminal or a threat," said Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, the bill sponsor, in a statement. The legislation now heads to the state Senate.
That change is part of a larger package showcasing the local Republican philosophy on guns. The plan, backed by a gun owners group called GeorgiaCarry.Org, would allow people to carry weapons in churches, bars and college campuses — despite the objections of higher education officials. In response to a shooting rampage that killed 26 people in Connecticut, it would allow school officials to arm their employees.
See Friday's edition for more details.