This past General Assembly was one of the quickest on record, mainly because of the federal mandate that pushed our state primary election up to May 20. Many of the legislators, including the governor, are up for re-election this year and they didn’t want to be stuck in Atlanta while their opponents were free to campaign in their home districts.
I like a short session, mainly because I figure it keeps our state legislators from getting themselves into too much trouble. But that didn’t stop them this session. From my viewpoint, they got themselves in trouble pretty quick. Here are a couple of examples:
House Bill 459: Requiring slow vehicles in the left lane to move over when there are faster cars behind them. We’ve all been there – zipping along at 80 miles an hour in a line of cars in the left lane, when a slower driver shows up ahead of us, causing the lead cars to have to slow down or cut over to get around the slower vehicle, which causes a chain reaction for everyone else… except for that one person talking on the cell phone, who doesn’t notice the slow down until it’s too late, and plows into the back of the car ahead of them. That slow car should have moved over and let us all by. But that’s not always possible when there are other speed demons racing through traffic at 85 miles per hour and changing lanes without signal, and when there are 18-wheelers pounding along at 75 and 80 miles per hour in the middle lane, or in the right lane if there is a slower truck in the middle.
I think this bill is going to make things worse instead of better because it does nothing to control the idiots around us. If they are going to say slow cars have to move over from the left lane, then they also need to say that fast cars and trucks can’t use the right lane.
House Bill 60: Or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014. It says Georgia residents who have concealed carry permits can take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings and certain parts of airports. The law also forbids police officers who see a resident carrying a gun to ask for their permit unless they’re committing a crime. Another provision in the bill related to the Stand Your Ground law also says that criminal prosecution of felons who use illegal firearms in self-defense will be waived.
I’ve said before that even though I don’t own a gun, I’m not against those who do. And while I don’t believe guns should be confiscated every time there is a mass shooting, I do believe in not making it easier for such incidents to happen. And I think Georgia has made it way too easy for a mass shooting to occur. How may news stories have we seen about people arguing in a bar, then going outside to their cars to get guns and start shooting, many times wounding or killing innocent bystanders? Under this law, they won’t have to go outside to their cars to get their guns, they can carry the guns into the bars! And I don’t believe guns and churches go together, either. Sure, we’ve seen stories about church shootings. And I’m sure gun owners will say that if they had their guns, they could fire back at the shooter. Well, maybe if every person who owned a gun was an expert shooter who could hit any target the first time under any condition, that might work. But no one is that good. You’re in a crowded church with people around you panicking, and if you miss, you might kill an innocent person yourself.
But the worst parts of this bill are those that deal with law enforcement and criminals. An officer cannot ask for a person’s gun permit unless that person commits a crime. That pretty much just opened it up to anybody who can get their hands on a gun to be able to carry one, whether they have a license or not. That is insane, and put us and our police officers in even more jeopardy. Then add that a convicted criminal, who isn’t supposed to have a gun in the first place, can avoid prosecution if he or she can prove they used their illegal gun in self defense, and you’ve opened the floodgates for more crime and shootings.
Now I wish our legislators had stayed in session longer. I fear they had their minds to much on politicking and not enough on common sense and protecting the people they represent.
Larry Stanford can be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.