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Bullet points on a loaded issue for Ga.

By Titus Falodun Staff Writer | 1/24/2014, 1:36 p.m.
The right to carry is being used left and right (no pun intended) and everywhere. But there remains a clear ...
Braving the penetrating cold of Thursday, Jan. 16, dozens of Atlanta area residents arrived, by foot or by car, early in the morning to give up their guns in exchange for some cash. Photo by Titus Falodun.

The seemingly never-ending news of gun-related incidents adds potency to a loaded issue.

In recent weeks, guns have been front and center, from the fatal movie theater shooting in Florida to the fatal campus shooting at Purdue University.

The right to carry is being used left and right (no pun intended) and everywhere. But there remains a clear dividing line between those who support and those who oppose the current and proposed laws about the owning and carrying of firearms.

Currently, Georgia lawmakers are preparing to introduce new gun bills (House Bill 732), proposed by Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Loganville), would nullify any future federal gun restrictions and House Bill 512 would widen the areas where Georgians can carry their firearms.

The proposed expanded places for carrying include places churches, bars, and campuses.

“People seem to think that they have special power when they have a gun and we want to try to do our best to alleviate some of those situations,” NAACP Atlanta President and Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church Founder and Pastor R.L. White said during the (Thursday, Jan. 16) community gun buyback event held at Turner Field’s Gray Lot.

White aimed for the gun buyback to be held around the Martin Luther King, Jr. week of celebration as a reminder of the power of nonviolence.

“We wanted to have it as close to King week as we could, because Dr. King was a man of nonviolence,” he explained. “And violence has escalated so much in our neighborhoods.”

Per The Center for American Progress 2013 report, Georgia had the 10th highest rate of gun violence in the United States in a decade span.

From 2001 through 2010, more than twice as many people were killed by guns in Georgia (11,591) than were killed in combat in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (5,187), according to the report. In 2009, Georgia exported crime guns at a rate more than two-times the national average.

In addition, there was a gun murder every 20 hours on average in Georgia.

In Georgia, you must be 21 years and have a weapons carry license in order to own a firearm. But that has not deterred unregistered gun carriers and guns from flooding the streets.

Those selling their weapons back at the gun buyback were given $100 for larger guns such as rifles and $50 for pistols. No identification or license was required. No questions asked; just show up with a gun and get money back.

“I don’t want it; I don’t use it,” Atlanta-native Tommy Angelo Givan said. “I got grand kids around the house and I don’t even want them to play with it. It looks like a BB gun.”

Gun owners and anti-gun activists share an understanding of the responsibility and dangers of firearms, which Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), who sponsors the new gun bill legislation, hopes will provide an open and healthy discourse on the presence guns in Georgia.

Jasperse stated private property rights are protected in the new bill, in the cases of churches and bars.  It would be up to the individual owners or the church elders to make those decisions.

Furthermore, he believes that state lawmakers, not college presidents, should decide on the use of guns on campuses.

“I think the Legislature would be very reluctant to turn over their responsibility for Georgians’ ability to protect themselves over to college presidents,” Jasperse said.

The issue of guns on campuses has been a heated topic between House and Senate member since last year’s sessions, and there appears to be no letting up on the overall gun debate.