ATLANTA - A bill that would expand the rights of Georgians to carry concealed weapons sailed through the state Senate on Thursday, over the objections of some law enforcement groups.
The bill would allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry their weapon in a state park or historic site. And drivers legally eligible to obtain a gun license could also have a weapon in their car, under the legislation.
It passed 41 to 15.
``Let us today make a bold statement: we are not afraid to trust our people,'' state Sen. Chip Rogers, a Woodstock Republican, said.
A much-disputed provision sought by the National Rifle Association that would have allowed employees to leave a firearm in their locked car at work was watered down following a furious lobbying campaign against it by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. The business group argued the change would have trampled the private property rights of business owners.
Under the bill that passed on Thursday, only the 300,000 Georgians with concealed weapons permits would be eligible to take advantage of the parking lot provision. And workplace property owners would have a say in the matter. In publicly accessible parking lots, the same rules must apply to customers and employees. Guns could only be banned for employees if they are prohibited for customers as well.
The NRA said it backed the current compromise but would oppose any move to weaken it further.
The bill makes it a felony to send ``straw purchasers'' to attempt to buy guns in Georgia. That was intended as a loud rebuke to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who sued several Georgia gun dealers after they sold pistols to undercover investigators as part of a sting operation.
And it would set new deadlines for judges who oversee firearm licensing in the state, a move designed to prevent delays.
On The Net: House Bill 89: www.legis.state.ga.us