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New law allows Georgia residents to carry guns in churches, schools, bars

By CBS/AP 6:15 PM April 23, 2014

Under a law just signed by Georgia’s governor, people with a license can carry a gun into bars, some government buildings and places of worship if religious leaders say it’s okay.

A few hundred gun rights advocates gathered to watch Wednesday’s bill signing by Gov. Nathan Deal with top officials including House Speaker David Ralston and bill sponsor Rep. Rick Jasperse.

“No one should be scared of these people,” said Rep. Jasperse at a rally in support of the law. “They’ve done nothing wrong in the past. It’s appropriate that these good Georgians, if they choose, take that responsibility to defend themselves. That they be able to do that.”

Also under the law passed this session, school districts would now be able, if they choose, to allow some employees to carry a firearm under certain conditions.

“This is a sad day for Georgia. This is not a day to celebrate. It’s a day that will put all of Georgia at risk,” said Kathryn Grant with the Gun Sense Coalition that opposed the law.

Rev. Willie Phillips of Gethsemane Baptist Church in Columbus, Ga., told CBS affiliate WRBL in March he would not allow guns in his church, adding it would be too much of a distraction.

“I could see people looking around thinking ‘I wonder who beside me got a gun on them…who beside me got a gun in their purse,” Phillips said.

Republican State Senator Josh McKoon voted in favor of the bill, telling WRBL he believes it would actually keep you safer.

“A criminal is not going to be concerned about a law that says you can’t carry a gun in a particular area,” said McKoon. “So the impact of these laws is that they cause law-abiding citizens to voluntarily disarm themselves and be sitting ducks if there was a situation where a criminal started shooting.”

Gov. Deal defended the bill as important to Second Amendment rights, reports CBS affiliate WGCL in Atlanta.

“This legislation will protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License,” Deal said. “Roughly 500,000 Georgia citizens have a permit of this kind, which is approximately 5 percent of our population. License holders have passed background checks and are in good standing with the law. This law gives added protections to those who have played by the rules – and who can protect themselves and others from those who don’t play by the rules.”

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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