Something about the reasoning behind a new law in Georgia seems to defy logic. We all want to keep libraries, schools, churches, bars, and government buildings safe, right? We don’t want random individuals bringing in guns and shooting people, correct? It seems safe to assume our collective objective is to keep guns out of these places. So why is the solution in Georgia a law that allows guns everywhere?
The new law, signed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, goes into effect on July 1. Just to clarify, school districts will make decisions about guns in schools, and religious leaders will decide whether or not to allow guns in places of worship. Certain government buildings, however, are a different story. There, licensed gun owners from Georgia and 28 other states won’t face such restrictions. They’ll be allowed to bring in their guns. The same freedom will be extended to gun-toting bar patrons who hold a permit.
Well. What could go wrong when you mix guns and alcohol?
The law overlooks some other potentially disastrous situations as well. For instance, it prevents police from detaining individuals to verify that they do indeed have the required gun permit. That right certainly would come in handy if, say, police wanted to check into someone who was carrying a gun and seemed unstable.
The law also removes a restriction that previously prevented certain individuals from obtaining a gun permit. We’re talking about convicted criminals here — though only those convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes. But this turnaround begs a two-part question: Why were they considered unfit for a gun permit before? And what has changed to justify removing the restriction?
If you want to get down to basics, everything the new law allows and doesn’t allow is about trust. It trusts that people with gun permits are law-abiding citizens (or at least they will be from this point on). It trusts that individuals can carry guns into public places without shooting those guns. (Unless, of course, a bad seed uses his or her gun in a dangerous way. Then, of course, all bets are off.)
Whether you agree with this law or not, whether you see the law as flawed or flawless, it isn’t the final solution that will end gun violence or fully protect against it. We can restrict gun use and watch out for those who disobey those restrictions. But as a society, we travel among strangers every day, keeping faith that they will not harm us. Most of the time, we just have to trust one another.
Thankfully, most of the time, we can.