Georgia Gun Law: So Far No School Takers

Last Updated: July 28, 2014

This article appeared in the July 2014 Rural Policy Matters.

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A new Georgia law went into effect this month making it legal to carry a gun in almost all settings in the state, including schools.

The law allows licensed gun owners to carry their weapons in bars, houses of worship, many public buildings, and colleges and schools unless prohibited by owners or institutional officials. It also prohibits jurisdictions from sharing databases on permit holders, ends state record-keeping on sales and purchases of firearms, and prohibits the governor from placing caps on gun sales or restricting carrying rights.

While the law allows schools to arm teachers and other school staff, it does not require that they do so. No schools have yet chosen to exercise the law’s new provisions. Several school systems have said that will not pursue the option, preferring to rely on school resource officers and local or school-based police instead.

Objections to arming teachers in Georgia have been similar to those in other states and include concerns that guns in schools increase risk and that training cannot properly cover the complex situations regular staff members face.

A Rural Trust report on school violence incidents found that armed intruders and mass shooters account for relatively small percentages of deaths from violent incidents. More common are incidents in which a single student kills another students, usually with a gun.

The report also found that the most effective ways to keep students safe in school and reduce the likelihood of violence is through initiatives aimed at improving school climate, positive discipline, and strong relationships between schools and their communities.

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