ATLANTA,None - A move to allow 18-year-olds to carry concealed weapons in Georgia is one step closer to becoming law.
After much heated debate Wednesday, the bill was one of several controversial measures that made it through Crossover Day, one of the last days for any bill to make it out of the House or Senate for the session.
Currently, Georgia residents must be at least 21 to get a concealed weapons permit. There is no training needed. The new proposal would open it up to 18, 19 and 20-year-olds, as long as they go through four hours of classroom instruction, four hours of training on a firing range and pass a test.
“If you have the training, you can choose to apply for the permit, background check and choose to carry a concealed weapon,” Republican state Sen. Judson Hill told Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary.
Hill, of Marietta, is one of the bill’s sponsors and said it was originally inspired by young military veterans.
"If you're in the military, 19, serving this country, lots of training overseas or maybe Fort Benning, why can't you carry a concealed weapon if you have that training?” Hill said.
But some of his peers said a lot of young people aren’t ready for that responsibility.
“The maturity level of an 18-year-old is not that of an older person,” state Sen. Vincent Fort told Geary.
Fort, a Democrat, said he agrees military personnel under 21 should be able to carry concealed weapons but not civilians.
“You have to make life and death decisions when you're carrying concealed (weapons),” Fort said. “Generally, we have those age limits for a reason.”
He also fears House lawmakers will amend the bill to allow concealed weapons on college campuses. Hill said college students should be protected too.
“We want a college student off campus to be able to protect themselves if that's their choice to carry,” he said.
The bill is now headed to the state House for debate and a vote.