Is the Fix In to Prevent a Pro-Gun Bill in GA From Making It Past the GOP Controlled Senate?
HB 875 originally looked like a shoe in to many outside observers such as myself. The bill, that originated in the Georgia House was a sort of “Round 2” of a comprehensive pro-gun reform bill that stalled last year due to some unpopular language and provisions of the bill.
This year the changes most thought would be needed to get the bill through the legislature were made and HB 875 sailed through the house, passing with an overwhelming majority vote of 119-56. It looked like HB 875 was on its way.
Among other things, the bill will allow Georgia Weapons Carry License holders to carry weapons into churches (the churches can still “opt out” of allowing carry) as well as more alcohol serving establishments (the current wording of the law is somewhat unclear on what sort of establishments firearms may be carried into). The bill also allows school boards to place trained, armed individuals in school if they desire as well as streamlines the process of renewing a carry license. Nothing groundbreaking in this bill that isn’t already being done in dozens of other states.
However, now it seems that the same committee in the state senate that stalled the bill last year may be up to something yet again. There were rumblings among many political commentators that the bill last year lacked support from both the Governor and Lt. Governor and thus was left to stall. Both the Governor and Lt. Governor have been fairly quiet on the issue yet again this year.
It also seems there is now a last second development in the passage of this bill. Senator Jesse Stone, Chairman of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee seems to be up for a nice judgeship. This would mean Stone could take steps to kill or water down HB 875 without having to worry about facing his constituents during the next election cycle. According to the Peach Pundit,
It has been predicted that in the coming days Senator Stone will offer a committee substitute to HB 875, the carry bill that was said to pass without doubt this session. It has been predicted that this substitute will essentially water it down enough to render its edges smooth. And, for the heat Stone shall take, his reward will be that shortly following session he will be appointed judge by Governor Deal. It is very likely that the GOP executive committee will select his replacement, not primary voters. I know very little about party rules, so I shall leave that up to others to verify its accuracy. The decks are being reshuffled by leadership, and the bill will be reloaded in an altered form.
This is a rumor and may entirely not come to pass. It would not be the first time I have been duped in regards to this Senator, so we shall watch this unfold together.
The plot thickens. With the state senate and possibly even the governor’s office being so at odds with the house and the voters of GA, we have to ask ourselves what is going on in the upper levels of the GOP leadership in Georgia?! Sure, the passage of this bill would attract criticism from the major anti-gun players, but a pro-gun bill getting passed in the state of Georgia is certainly nothing anyone is going to lose an election over.
I don’t pretend to have any answer to that question. The only thing I do know is that in recent months we’ve seen increased funds, advertising and lobbying by anti-gun groups within the state of GA by Bloomberg funded groups including Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action as well as Gabby Gifford’s group, Americans for Common Sense Solutions. Could a state that was once considered a fairly pro-gun, conservative state be bowing to special interest groups from the national anti-gun lobby? Could it be that the leaders of the GOP in GA simply don’t trust law abiding citizens to carry firearms in more places? I don’t know, but I don’t like the way things are going in the peach state. If the Bloomberg groups can influence policy in the state of GA, then there are few places in the country I would consider safe from their reach.
HB 875 will have its first committee hearing tomorrow. Here is some info put out by NRA-ILA on who to contact ahead of tomorrow’s hearing. GEORGIA RESIDENTS are encouraged to call and email committee members to encourage them to support HB 875 without any major changes.
This Tuesday, March 11, House Bill 875 is expected to be heard in the state Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. As previously reported, HB 875 passed in the Georgia House of Representatives by a 119-56 vote on February 19. Introduced by state Representative Rick Jasperse (R-11), HB 875 is the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent state history and seeks to make many changes to benefit law-abiding gun owners, shooters and sportsmen alike.
Your support and activism is needed now to urge members of the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee to support this bill. Comprehensive reform is what Georgians need and HB 875 is the right legislation to do it! Please contact members of the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and urge them to support HB 875. Contact information for committee members is provided below.
Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee:
Senator Jesse Stone (R-23), Chairman
Senator William T. Ligon, Jr. (R-3), Vice-Chairman
Senator Curt Thompson (D-5), Secretary
Senator Joshua McKoon (R-29), Ex-Officio
Senator Charlie Bethel (R-54)
Senator John Crosby (R-13)
Senator Vincent Fort (D-39)
Senator Hunter Hill (R-6)
Senator Ronald B. Ramsey, Sr. (D-43)