Last week, Georgia took perhaps the largest action yet for the gun rights community that has the NRA cheering, gun control activists wailing, and everyone around the nation letting out a confused and very concerned, “Huh?” Georgia has given the gun community exactly what it’s wanted with this law, while completely ignoring the dangerous side effects of putting these policies into place. This law has gone too far, and it’s time we open up a dialogue on guns as a country, because it’s obvious the rift between some of us is larger than we thought.
At this point, some people may be wondering what Georgia’s new gun law actually entails. According to an end-of-session analysis by the Senate Research office, as interpreted by the Washington Post, Georgia’s new bill will offer a variety of new freedoms to license-carrying gun owners. Gun owners will be able to carry guns in bars, government buildings (unless screened by security), places of worship, school safety zones, on school transportation and at school functions. It also expands the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law to include the use of banned firearms in self-defense. It also removes the governor’s authority to limit the sale or carrying of guns, firearms dealers are no longer required to keep records for state purposes, and legal firearms are no longer allowed to be restricted in any way in public housing. Finally, it would not allow cities to place any additional regulations on firearm or dealers.
As you can see, this is definitely a “statement” bill on Georgia’s part. However, this “statement” is extremely shortsighted, as it leaves the state open to many risks. Allowing guns to be carried practically anywhere opens up the field for not only average people, but also to the malevolent and the mentally unstable. I understand that many people want to practice their hobbies or shooting sports and the like, but it must be realized that with greater freedoms come greater risk, especially when it comes to firearms. I typically am on the “greater freedom” side of arguments, but this is a very frivolous freedom, and the risks we’re talking about here are increases in gun deaths, injuries, and violent crimes. While this law will not explicitly add more guns to the system, it certainly creates a very friendly environment for them. Can anyone honestly tell me that having the freedom to own a machine gun is worth all the school shootings we are forced to endure on a nearly annual basis? I can’t even fathom how anyone outside law enforcement or security could justify needing to have access to machine guns; it’s ridiculous. Our country is already notorious for its wide-open gun laws; widening them further benefits nobody but gun businesses themselves.
The most unfortunate part about this is that the “gun lust” in certain areas of the country stems from very real fears that are simply being addressed in the most ridiculously incorrect way possible. I believe that the reason guns have become so popular recently is because people are afraid that the government doesn’t represent them anymore. This is a completely valid fear, and also one that I believe to be true. Let’s take taxes for an example. The 10 states in our country that benefit the most from our tax dollars are solidly Republican states, which is ironic, considering how many Republican candidates have argued against higher taxes and criticized the “welfare state.” The people in these states are getting screwed by their political representation, and yet are holding on to their every word. They occupy the most welfare-dependent regions in our country, yet elect political candidates who do all they can to reduce the spending they rely on at a federal level. Additionally, these candidates they elect have a reputation for fighting to keep regulations off big business, which hurts their communities even more. Remember when 300,000 West Virginians lost clean drinking water? So yes, Republicans from poorer, more rural regions are not being represented in government. But, they’re going about protecting themselves from it all wrong.
Let’s be frank, the gun situation in this country is getting out of hand. If this were about hunters’ rights, this wouldn’t be as big as a deal. It’s far more than that; it’s about a people who are going unheard in our country. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and arming ourselves with knowledge rather than guns is the only way to fight it.
Sean Kennedy is an undeclared freshman who has never fired a gun… yeah. Love and hate can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.