Pro-gun advocates in Georgia are praising a broad gun bill that Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law on Wednesday.
Nicknamed the "guns everywhere bill" by its critics, the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 permits Georgia residents who have concealed carry permits to bring guns into some bars, school zones, churches, government buildings and certain parts of airports. The bill will go into effect July 1.
"Roughly 500,000 Georgia citizens have a permit of this kind, which is approximately 5 percent of our population," Deal said, according to CNN. "License holders have passed background checks and are in good standing with the law. This law gives added protections to those who have played by the rules — and who can protect themselves and others from those who don't play by the rules."
Hundreds of people carrying handguns and some wearing National Rifle Association apparel gathered at an open-air picnic area in northern Georgia to witness Wednesday's signing.
The bill breezed through state legislature in the House and the Senate, while also gaining the support of Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter, a 2014 gubernatorial candidate and ex-President Jimmy Carter's grandson.
GeorgiaCarry, the group that lobbied for the bill, considers it "meaningful pro-gun legislation, while Americans for Responsible Solutions — an anti-gun violence organization formed by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly — has opposed the law, deeming it "extremism in action."
"Among its many extreme provisions, it allows guns in TSA lines at the country's busiest airport, forces community school boards into bitter, divisive debates about whether they should allow guns in their children's classrooms, and broadens the conceal carry eligibility to people who have previously committed crimes with guns," Pia Carusone, the senior adviser to Americans for Responsible Solutions, told CNN.
"So it is no surprise that while being trumpeted by the NRA as the 'most comprehensive' gun bill in state history, the legislation ... was opposed by Georgia law enforcement, county commissioners, municipal leaders, and the Transportation Security Administration for its potentially harmful impact on Georgians' safety."
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(Photo: AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brant Sanderlin)