Prompt action by the Legislature and Gov. Roy Barnes makes Georgia the first state to ban cities from suing gun-manufacturers. This laudatory move should strengthen even more the state's "A" rating recently bestowed by a prominent group that stands up for Second Amendment rights.
The bill was passed and signed by the governor just weeks after Atlanta sought to join other cities in filing suits in hopes of forcing the firearms industry to pick up the tabs for violence and suffering caused by persons who use guns for criminal purposes.
The measure also comes on the heels of President Clinton's radio talk last Saturday calling for expanding the Brady Law to include gun shows. This would devastate mom-and-pop entrepreneurs who don't have time at gun shows to go through the complicated, lengthy clearance procedures required by Brady. And there's no evidence that gun show purchases contributes to a higher violent crime rate.
In fact, it's just the opposite for Georgia and other states whose crime rates have gone down, in part, because there are less restrictions on ownership of firearms.
There's another reason as well -- the growing movement to allow responsible citizens to carry concealed firearms if they meet safety standards.
The importance of concealed carry laws as an adjunct to Second Amendment rights was spelled out in University of Chicago Professor John Lott's recent book, More Guns, Less Crime. Lott's research shows states that permit properly qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons enjoy lower violent crime rates than those that don't.
More good news for Georgians is that their state is one of only a handful that the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms grades "A" on its freedom index list. The index provides state-by-state comparisons of the level of trust each state places in its citizenry to exercise their right of self-defense.
The Peach State's top score on this important index ought to provide momentum for House Bill 387, which empowers the commissioner of public safety to issue "especially trained handgun licenses" to applicants who complete a handgun safety course.
The measure would allow Georgians, for the first time, to carry concealed handguns into bars, mass-transit stations, trains, buses and other areas where the weapons are currently banned.
H.B. 387 would put real muscle in the state's concealed carry law -- by getting rid of the many exceptions that prevent Georgians from protecting themselves, and possibly others. After all, you can be sure thugs and killers are not deterred from carrying concealed firearms wherever they wish.
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