By Rick Jasperse
With the Second Amendment, in a mere 27 words, our Founding Fathers empowered the citizens of this nation — for as long as it should stand — to retain the right to keep and bear arms and that this right shall not be infringed.
The rights enumerated by the Second Amendment speak to the importance of the preservation of a limited government and cannot be overstated. In my capacity as a state legislator, I am often reminded by my constituents that their right to keep and bear arms is both sacred and immutable. It is not simply that they fear the encroachment of government into their lives — it is that they recognize that, unfortunately, we live in a dangerous world.
While I cannot begin to explain the reasons for which someone might seek to take the life of another, I believe wholeheartedly that, should Georgians wish to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their families, they should have that option.
Currently, our state allows Georgians 21 years and older who have clean criminal and mental health histories, to receive a Georgia Weapons Carry License. These individuals are thoroughly vetted by both our judicial system and law enforcement agencies and are required to have background checks repeated every five years when renewing their licenses. HB 875 — the Safe Carry Protection Act — addresses the rights of this specific group of Georgians — in short, this bill is about the good guys.
At its core, the Safe Carry Protection Act is about safeguarding and restoring the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Georgians. Within this bill, the Legislature ensures that nothing — not even a state of emergency — permits the executive branch to prohibit the legal possession of a firearm.
This bill is also about choice. HB 875 expands the rights of property owners to choose whether or not to allow guns on their property, while offering local Boards of Education the option to arm certain school personnel — who have received firearms training — to ensure the safety of our children. We in the Legislature recognize these decisions are best made at the individual and community level, and we have striven to protect the rights of both property owners and local governments.
More importantly, however, HB 875 works to strengthen the protections against weapons carry permits being given to the mentally ill. This bill prohibits two additional groups of people from receiving a permit: those who have been adjudicated mentally incompetent to stand trial, and those who have been adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity. Furthermore, it expedites the transfer of information regarding mentally incompetent individuals — including those involuntarily hospitalized — to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) by requiring such information be transmitted within 10 days of their trial. This provision ensures that those performing background checks on weapons carry permit applicants have the most up-to-date information possible.
Amid all the misinformation and emotion surrounding HB 875, one must remember that this bill is not about irresponsibly arming the masses; this bill is about safety and responsibility. Georgians have, and deserve, the right to defend themselves, and this bill seeks to protect that right.
State Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, is a sponsor of HB 875.