Georgia attracted national attention last week when it signed a law expanding areas that a concealed weapon may be carried.
Permit-holders can now bring firearms into churches, bars, and government buildings without security checkpoints. Schools can also appoint staff members to carry guns.
The law is one of the most permissive in the nation, and has attracted criticism from people who think the sweeping regulations will spark violence.
Georgia state Rep. Rick Jasperse (R.-Jasper), who introduced the bill, argues that limiting the ability to carry a weapon puts people in danger by “empowering the bad guys.”
Georgia lawmakers are not alone in their efforts to loosen gun restrictions. At it’s annual meeting last week, the National Rifle Association began to consider plans for expanding on the rights of gun owners.
With concealed weapons legalized in all 50 states, the NRA wants to ensure that permits for one state apply when the carrier travels across the U.S. Advocates want Congress to require that state permits be recognized in other states, even when the local requirements for obtaining a permit may be stricter.
Critics of the measure worry that more lenient regulations might eclipse more stringent requirements when permit holders travel from state to state. While some states recognize others’ permits, at least 10 won’t accept another state’s permits, or make a decision based on which particular state the concealed carry permit was issued in.
Where should people be allowed to bring their guns? What will the impact of looser regulations be at the state and national level? How would a program that allows nationwide concealed weapons work? What are the potential risks and benefits? What’s next for gun law in the U.S.?
John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws” (University of Chicago Press, Third Edition, 2010. He is the founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, a research and education organization dedicated to studying the relationship between laws regulating the ownership or use of guns, crime, and public safety
Adam Winkler, law professor at UCLA and author of "Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America" (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011)