Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed legislation into effect on Wednesday paving the way for registered gun owners to carry their weapons into churches, schools, libraries and bars, USA Today reported.
"Today I will sign a gun bill that heralds self-defense, personal liberties and public safety," Deal said at a press conference announcing the signing of House Bill 60. "While we still guard against tyranny, America today cherishes this right, so that people who follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from those who don't follow the rules."
The bill, which critics called the "guns everywhere" bill as it made its way through the state legislature, will allow gun owners in Georgia and 28 other states to bring their weapons into public buildings that do not have metal detectors. Schools will have the option of allowing employees to carry firearms, and religious institutions will have the same option on letting guns inside their buildings. It was passed with bipartisan support last month.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Deal responded to criticism of the bill by emphasizing that it covered "people who have their fingerprints taken, their backgrounds checked and they have been licensed to carry a weapon."
But according to the Washington Post, the nonpartisan state Senate Research Office found that HB 60 runs counter to Deal's assurances, because it removes the fingerprinting requirement for new gun licensees, and also abolished a state requirement that gun merchants maintain records of their sales and purchases.
It also expands the state's "stand your ground" law to allow firearm owners to invoke the statute if they shoot and kill someone in self-defense, even if their gun is not registered.
Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun safety advocacy group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), released an ad before the bill passed calling it "the most extreme gun bill in America."
Watch video of Deal's remarks, as posted by USA Today on Wednesday, below.
[h/t Think Progress]
[Image: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) via Wikipedia.com]