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Guest column: Point of lawful carry bill is good government
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The Times editorial board is completely misinformed about the Lawful Carry Bill (SB 308) and has unfortunately misled the public in its editorial Sunday.

I began hearings in the fall of 2008 on Georgia's firearms laws. Since then, I received countless e-mails, phone calls and heard testimony from citizens and law enforcement stating how confusing Georgia's laws were and how desperately they needed to be fixed.

To say that clarifying a confusing law is "bone-headed" is clearly naive to citizens' rights and public safety.

The bill was introduced so that licensed citizens could know how to follow the law and law enforcement could properly enforce the law. That is responsible government.

The Lawful Carry Bill states specifically that it is unlawful to carry a weapon into a bar or church unless permission is obtained by the property owner. Therefore, legally carrying citizens have the responsibility to make sure they are allowed to carry their weapon or risk violating the law.

It is currently against the law to discharge a firearm while under the influence, just like it is against the law to drive a car while under the influence (but it is not against the law to carry one's car keys while under the influence). The Lawful Carry Bill does not change this provision.

Numerous religious groups and members of organizations contacted me about their inability to have lawful firearms on their premises. Many religious leaders want to provide security for their congregation by allowing properly licensed members to legally carry at their church. Some religious groups feel they are targets for attacks or crimes and simply wanted the ability to protect themselves, just like homeowners.

Therefore, the Lawful Carry Bill affords each presiding officer of a place of worship the right to choose what is best for their congregations on their property. Recently, a shooting was stopped by a lawfully-carrying congregation member in Colorado Springs, Colo. Why shouldn't Georgians have the same ability to protect their church?

It is also a First Amendment violation for a state to prohibit behavior in a church when that behavior is generally permitted throughout the state. The Free Exercise (of religion) Clause forbids states from interfering with church activities in such a manner.

In regards to colleges and universities, the Lawful Carry Bill provides the Board of Regents and Georgia's Technical Colleges the right to determine if they want to allow licensed citizens to carry firearms on their campuses. The technical schools actually contacted me and asked for this in support of the provision.

Nobody younger than the age of 21 is eligible for a gun license, which eliminates much of the school population from lawfully carrying a firearm.

In addition, it will still be a crime to carry a weapon onto any campus without a license. Yes, the Board of Regents frowns on allowing guns on college campuses and they would have the ability and right to set their own regulations, free from legislative interference.

So what is the point to the Lawful Carry Bill? The point is to afford private property owners the right to determine if they want lawfully carried weapons on their property. The point is to remove the "gotcha" situation from the laws so that lawfully carrying citizens are not trapped into unknowingly committing crimes.

The point is to give law enforcement a clear law so they can properly enforce it and provide public safety.

The point is simply good government.

Mitch Seabaugh, a Republican from Sharpsburg, is majority whip and represents District 28 in the Georgia Senate.