Some Georgia lawmakers continue to try to expand gun laws so more people can get licenses to carry firearms. A bill up for a vote today would allow people who have voluntarily sought inpatient treatment for mental illness or substance abuse to carry a gun.
About 15% of Dougherty County has a carry permit, and more people are getting licenses every day.
Both Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul and District Attorney Greg Edwards are supporters of the Second Amendment and people's right to carry guns for self defense. But with 6,472 gun carry permits valid in Dougherty County now, they want people to take advantage that right safely.
D.A. Edwards said, "Even though our gun laws are expanding, I want people to, number one, realize that it is a great responsibility to maintain a gun."
The Sheriff urges every first time gun owner to get training, and to safeguard that weapon at all times. "I'm hoping they do take it as a responsibility for their families. The last thing you want to do is attend your child's funeral because you made an unsafe choice by leaving you weapon loaded in a dresser drawer or underneath the bed," Sproul said.
Sheriff's deputies provide gun locks and will teach you how to use them properly. "One is you can inset the mechanism down through the barrel. What is easier is to go through here. Go in through the port, out through the bottom of the magazine. Remove the key," Dougherty County Sheriff's Captain Allen Brock said.
Sheriff's Deputies go to schools to teach gun safety to kids. "Always treat the weapon as if it was loaded. Don't touch it," said Sheriff's Office Lt. Terron Hayes.
The Sheriff and the District Attorney say they know gun owners who apply and get gun carry permits are law abiding citizens. They just urge them to remember the responsibility that comes with gun ownership.
"I'm going to support gun owners defending their home against improper invasion. I'm going to support appropriate use of self defense if firearms are used in self defense," Edwards said.
But they also urge gun carry permit holders to be properly trained, and concentrate on the correct way to carry and maintain that gun.
So far in 2013, there have been 340 gun permits issued in Dougherty County.