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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Georgia leaders: Guns are awesome, except around us

According to the fine print on the back of Georgia gun permits, it's currently illegal to carry an "explosive compound, firearm, or knife" to "athletic or sporting events, churches or church functions, political rallies or functions, publicly owned or operated buildings, or establishments at which alcoholic beverages are sold [sic] for consumption on the premises."

On Friday, state lawmakers modified this no-gun-zone list.

If Gov. Perdue signs the legislation, Georgians with permits-to-pack will soon be able to carry concealed guns (but not samurai swords) on MARTA, into some restaurants and bars, and to state parks.

The law is obnoxious and Gov. Perdue should veto it — but not for the reason you might think.

I do not believe the new law will increase the number of restaurant and/or MARTA shoot-outs.

And as a gun permit holder myself,

I welcome the opportunity to legally carry a gun in more places. I've never wanted a gun with me while I'm in a restaurant, but I have occasionally wanted one with me while walking to and from restaurants late at night. The streets around many of my favorite restaurants are increasingly dangerous. The new law will make it legal for me to carry a gun between my car and a restaurant.

Same goes for MARTA. I don't feel unsafe on trains or inside stations, but I have felt unsafe approaching and leaving deserted MARTA stations at night.

Despite the fact that I will likely take advantage of the law if Perdue signs it, I still think the law is terrible and should be vetoed.

It's cowardly and hypocritical for lawmakers to lift the ban on guns for restaurants and MARTA, while retaining the ban on guns at political rallies and government buildings like the Capitol.

If it's OK for restaurant employees and mass transit riders to mingle with the packin' public, surely it's also safe for politicians to do the same. After all, unlike the rest of us, politicians are protected at work by state police and metal detectors.

Politicians are afraid to lift the gun ban around them, of course, because they fear getting shot. Is that a rational fear? I don't know.

But it's no more or less rational than the fear I keep hearing expressed about guns in restaurants and on MARTA.

To respect and codify their own fear while dismissing everyone else's is emblematic of how callous and self-interested Georgia's leaders are.

At this point, state leaders have zero apparent interest in what the public wants. They don't even fake it anymore.

They want money and support from the National Rifle Association, rural religious conservatives, and developers. The rest of us can fuck off. State government in Georgia today is nothing but an elaborate redneck prank. On the same day legislators okay'd the gun bill, they nixed a bill that would have allowed counties to raise sales tax revenue together to fund regional transportation projects.

Gridlock is slowing the region's economic growth and killing our quality of life, and the state's reaction isn't just to ignore the problem, but to sabotage the efforts of counties trying to fix the problem themselves.

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