ATLANTA - Georgia’s new controversial gun law went into effect at midnight on July 1.
The Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act, criticized by one group as the "guns everywhere" bill, expands where licensed carriers can take their weapons and includes varying rules affecting bars, churches, schools and government buildings.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 60 back in April.
Under the bill, licensed carriers can bring their guns into government buildings that don't have metal detectors or security guards screening visitors, “so that people that follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from those who don't,” Deal said at the signing back in April.
School districts are now able, if they so choose, to allow some employees to carry a firearm on school grounds under certain conditions.
The bill also allows those with a license to carry to bring a gun into a bar without restriction, unless a bar owner posts a sign saying otherwise.
For places of worship, the assumption is still that guns aren't allowed, but lawmakers gave religious leaders the ability to say they are OK.
Several religious leaders spoke out against the bill saying the new gun law goes against the teachings of Jesus.
In early May, Archbishop Wilton Gregory wrote in a Catholic bulleting saying he will “officially restrict” the presence of weapons in Georgia’s Catholic churches and religious institutions.
“The last thing we need is more firearms in public places, especially in those places frequented by children and the vulnerable. I do not want to suggest restricting firearms in places where they are needed, to protect one’s home and property or to defend the public by officials who are entrusted with our protection. Yet this new legislation de facto makes firearms more available in places where they may allow violence to escalate,” wrote Gregory.