The argument for allowing concealed-carry permit holders to cart loaded firearms everywhere, even to places of worship and college campuses, is based on the assumption that such gun owners are beyond reproach and pose no threat to anyone except criminals.
“We are dealing with the safest of the safe,” says state Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).
“People who get these permits are extremely law-abiding citizens,” says state Senate Majority Whip Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg), who heads the Senate committee studying gun laws.
It turns out that neither of these two characters could back up their claims with proof or evidence. I guess they were just expressing their feelings.
When asked whether concealed-carry permit holders are indeed civic paragons who never break the law, GBI spokesman John Bankhead responded with the equivalent of a shrug:
“Nobody knows,” he said. “The state of Georgia doesn’t track it. I don’t know of any way to prove they are law-abiding or disprove it, because there’s no record to say one way or the other.”
“A blind person can get a permit in Georgia, since all you have to do is pass a background check,” says Bankhead. “And that person can be arrested the very next week for a felony, convicted of that felony the next month and still have that permit for the next five years.”
The article goes on to explain how in Georgia it's almost impossible for the police to check if a person has a valid gun permit. Georgia has no central database where an officer can check easily on whether a permit exists, says Bankhead. “All the records are kept within each of the 159 probate courts,” he says. “There is no way to check whether the permit is valid. Police would have to call the court in the county where the permit was issued to find out if it was valid.
Judges are also concerned that background checks may not catch applicants with mental health problems treated in private mental hospitals or those deemed to be not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial. Nor do checks always identify people who have been determined in guardianship hearings to be unable to handle their own affairs. While different information databases may contain bits of information, they don’t necessarily connect to provide a full picture, says state Department of Human Resources official Karen Bailey-Smith.
When you add all that up, the reality must be a far cry from the "extremely law-abiding citizens" the concealed carry folks are supposed to be. That's what I call a "charade."
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