Proposed gun law changes spark debate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Proposed gun law changes spark debate

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –Georgia lawmakers will soon debate major changes to the state's firearm laws. One proposal would allow licensed gun owners to carry their weapons almost anywhere including school zones, college campuses, churches, and parts of airports.

Supporters say that more gun owners licensed to carry concealed weapons would lower the crime rate. Opponents argue that letting more people carry guns almost everywhere would lead to more violence. Legislators say they need to clarify and balance Georgia's gun laws.

One thing for certain, more Georgians are buying guns and getting permits so they can carry concealed guns for protection.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul said "We see more and more people in their 50 to 60 year old brackets, coming in to get guns, to get permits for them to carry weapons."

The National Association of Chiefs of Police report that nationally guns sales soared 30 percent in 2009. Phillip Colson said gun sales at Solo Archery were way up, with customers wanting to protect themselves from rampant crime.

Colson said "That's what I've seen in my lifetime. The more readily available firearms there are, the less crime there is going to be."

Sheriff Kevin Sproul supports Second Amendment rights, but said law enforcers want to see the legislation spelled out before any changes are made to Georgia carry laws.

Sheriff Sproul said "Right now we don't see a major problem in that area. But I do understand the concerns of both sides. I have some concerns."

Colson said the idea of a gun free zone is a joke, because the bad guys still have their guns.

Colson said "The only thing a gun free zone does is establish that a law abiding person like yourself or like me won't carry a gun there. The bad guys got to be bad guys because they don't pay attention to laws to start with."

Colson said that if crooks have to worry if people are armed, they will be less likely to make them crime victims. Opponents say tinkering with state gun laws could lead to more violence.

Many South Georgians have let it be known they believe they should be able to carry a concealed gun, because of the thousands of people who have bought weapons and got licenses to carry them. Now we'll see how state legislators vote.

Supporters know they'll have to fight for attention from legislative leaders who are more likely to focus on balancing the budget and economic development.

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