As Georgia’s Gun Freedoms Expand, So Do Others

Jul. 7, 2014
by Bob Adelmann

When Georgia’s new “guns everywhere” law became effective on Tuesday, July 1, the governor was ecstatic:

[This is] a great day to reaffirm our liberties….

The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should be at the front of our minds.

The new law allows gun owners with carry licenses to do so in churches, schools, bars, and some government buildings that were previously off limits. It also expands the state’s “stand your ground” laws to cover those previously convicted of felonies. And it prevents police from demanding without cause a person carrying to produce a license permitting him to do so.

Without saying so specifically, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal expressed a point often missed in the gun debate: all rights are tied together. When one right is disparaged, others suffer. And the reverse is true: when one right is honored, hallowed, and even expanded, other rights breathe more easily as well.

Congressman Paul Broun, a Republican and member of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, said nearly the same thing:

We know that when law-abiding citizens who know how to utilize a firearm have one on their person, it helps prevent crime. This is a law that I think is going to help prevent shootings, that it is going to help prevent crimes.

We see as we go forward that schools are going to be safer, that everybody around in any locale is going to be safer … I think it’s going to be a very positive move.

Not only are people likely to be safer, they’re likely to be freer as well. With this successful government limitation (i.e., expansion of freedom) now being enjoyed by Georgians, it’s not only about guns. Those involved in the freedom fight are being reminded that the Second Amendment is not a single issue affair, that it doesn’t serve to focus only on it and the attacks on it from totalitarians. They must also be willing to celebrate the exercise of freedom by others, even if they hold opposite positions on the matter.

To wit: the day after the Georgia law became effective, so did this proclamation from Target’s CEO John Mulligan:

The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.

As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so.

But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.

He noted that the issue is “complicated,” no doubt by the more than 400,000 signatures Shannon Watts obtained in a petition drive by her Michael Bloomberg-funded anti-gun group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America demanding no guns in Target. Said Mulligan:

This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.

Let’s not miss the point here: freedom is being expanded, not limited. Watts is enjoying her freedom to express her opinions, guaranteed under the First Amendment. Mulligan is free to express his opinion and exercise his rights in determining who he would like to invite into his 1700 stores. In the short run, pro-gun enthusiasts might chafe under the new proclamation from Target. But in the long run, freedom is served. Those offended don’t have to shop at Target. Or they are free to shop without carrying. Or they are free to ignore Mulligan’s request. That’s called freedom.

Starbucks and Chipotle are recent examples of the expansion of gun rights allowing them to exercise their own freedom to choose. Each has respectfully “requested,” as Target just did last Wednesday, that shoppers leave their firearms behind when entering their premises. They are certainly within their rights to do so.

Without acknowledging her rights under the First Amendment, Watts took all the credit for Target’s change of policy:

Moms are thankful that Target responded quickly to the call of nearly 400,000 Americans and asked customers to keep their firearms at home.

Without acknowledging her rights granted under the First Amendment, a critic of the new law took full advantage of it nevertheless. Said Pia Carusone, an advisor to Gabrielle Gifford’s anti-gun group Americans for Responsible Solutions:

Among its many extreme provisions, it allows guns in TSA lines in 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.

And how are the ordinary citizens of Georgia taking it? They aren’t even turning a hair! Jerry Henry, the Executive Director of the pro-gun group Georgia Carry (which lobbied in favor of the new law), went to lunch at a restaurant not far from the Georgia Tech campus. On his hip, in open view, was his shiny Kimber 1911. Right behind him was a reporter, hoping to write about the expressions of horror, dismay, and perhaps even panic that other patrons would show at his open display. The reporter was greatly disappointed: Henry, and his Kimber, were resoundingly ignored.

Henry expected nothing more:

The biggest misconception is that everybody is going to notice a difference with this law, but you’re not going to notice a difference.

There are very few things you can do now that you couldn’t do yesterday. The only change I could see coming is that you will be able to see guns on Sunday in churches.

In other words, ho hum, so what, who cares?

Those involved in the freedom fight need to remember that as one freedom is expanded, others will be too. In the largest sense, all freedom is expanded when government is pushed back, including the freedom not only to carry everywhere but also the freedom of others to determine freely who they want shopping in their stores. That is what the freedom fight is all about, isn’t it?



MSNBC: Georgia ‘guns everywhere’ bill takes effect

USAToday:      Target ‘respectfully requests’ shoppers don’t pack heat

Target Addresses Firearms in Stores

Wall Street Journal: Leave the Guns Outside, Target Asks

BBC:   Target to customers: No guns in our stores please

BBC:   Chipotle asks customers not to bring guns into restaurants

BBC:   Starbucks asks customers not to bring guns into outlets

Aljazeera: Georgia ‘guns everywhere’ law takes effect

Aljazeera: From the pews to the pub: Georgia now has ‘guns everywhere’

Townhall: Georgia “Guns Everywhere” Law In Effect Today

Huffington Post: Georgia Republican Says New ‘Guns Everywhere’ Law A ‘God-Given’ Right

Bio on Paul Broun

Americans for Responsible Solutions

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