It is possible, though not certain, that one of the first real differences you may notice between Gov. Sonny Perdue and his successor, Nathan Deal, will come on a Sunday. In your church pew.
If the fellow with the hymnal next to you has tucked a .45 under his armpit, you’ll know there’s been a change.
Believe it or not, many gun enthusiasts — the hardcore, anyway — will breathe a sigh of relief once Georgia’s first Republican governor in modern history leaves office next month.
It was Perdue who, this spring, vetoed a bill that would have explicitly given those who hold concealed-weapons permits the right to carry their firearms in unsecured areas of the terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
During this year’s sweeping rewrite of the state’s gun laws, it was also Perdue who insisted that places of worship remain on a shrinking list of public venues where firearms — concealed or otherwise — are not permitted.
And, very likely, it was the governor who backed the Board of Regents in its fight to maintain control over where guns may be carried on college campuses. Which is to say, hardly anywhere.
With Perdue’s departure, each of those issues is likely to resurface when the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Gun lobbyists at the state Capitol are drooling over a significant increase in GOP lawmakers. And they have hopes that Gov.-elect Deal is more open to the finer points of their agenda.
The governor-elect isn’t saying exactly what he’d be willing to support — though during the campaign, Deal gave some comfort to those who want to pack heat at Hartsfield-Jackson. “He’s not going to comment on hypothetical legislation,” spokesman Brian Robinson said.
Gun enthusiasts are also smiling at the sidelining of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle as ruler of the state Senate. Cagle is another Republican who has shown a certain reluctance to engage in legislative fights over gun rights.
A new eight-member Committee on Assignments, packed with senators tired of coming in behind Texas when it comes to firearms liberation, is now in charge — and certain to speed new legislation along.
So what comes first? Concealed weaponry in churches is considered the low-hanging fruit.
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit backed by Georgiacarry.org, challenging the state’s prohibition against carrying concealed weapons in churches and synagogues.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June, which limited the restrictions that local governments can put on firearm possession, may also encourage state lawmakers to overturn the ban — with the support of many churches in Georgia that view the Second Amendment as an essential footnote to the Ten Commandments.
As for guns in airport terminals — that is likely to remain complicated by the issue of terrorism.
Which brings us to the place of firearms at colleges and universities. “I think campus-carry is going to be an issue at some point in time,” said state Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, author of this year’s rewrite of the state’s gun laws.
But Seabaugh says he hasn’t decided whether to make a fight of it next month.
Whether sanctioned by concealed-carry permits or not, guns in dormitories and classrooms stir the parental instincts like nothing else — possibly because so many of us have lived with, and barely survived, teenagers armed only with hormones.
When he was pushing the concept this year, Seabaugh could point to state laws that restrict concealed-carry permits to those over the age of 21. Maturity would reign, he argued.
That argument was weakened last week by two federal lawsuits filed in Texas and backed by the National Rifle Association.
One case seeks to overturn the 32-year-old federal ban on handgun purchases from licensed firearm dealers by those under the age of 21. The second challenges a Texas state law restricting concealed-carry permits to those over 21.
Says the suit challenging the age limit on handgun purchases: “At eighteen years of age, law-abiding citizens in this country are considered adults for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights.”
We do not know how many state lawmakers in our Capitol would agree with dropping the age of concealed-weapon permits, or handgun purchases, to 18. If the Texas court cases gain traction, it might not matter.
Certainly, Georgia would become a more interesting place. A land where a teenager, college student or not, could plunk down $500 for a wicked-looking Glock 19 with a black matte finish, plus an extra magazine — but would still be banned from buying a six-pack of beer.
Because no one is suggesting that law should be changed.
– By Jim Galloway, Political Insider