It’s been quite a day. I headed back down to the Capitol to again speak in favor of HB 875, this time to the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The hearing turned out to be a dog and pony show since by the time the hearing commenced most of the language in HB 875 was tacked on to HB 60, another gun bill which had already passed both chambers and had passed the House as amended and was on its way to the Senate floor.
You see, as explained and predicted in this Peach Pundit Article, it looks like Jesse Stone is scratching Nathan Deal’s back in order to get that judgeship that he previously denied was on the table. He was so convinced he was about to screw us all with his crappy little substitute bill. Until Alan Powell made an end run around him and refused to let him pull a fast one by cutting him off at the knees. So, now the hot gun bill in GA is now HB 60 and it includes everything HB 875 had except for the $100 civil fine for carrying onto a college campus. We’ll see how it fares on the Senate floor, whether it passes clean or ends up in conference committee. Either way, I’m pleased that Rep. Powell didn’t allow Stone to get away with doing Governor Deal’s dirty work.
If it passes, then we’ll find out if Deal will keep his commitment to sign any pro-gun legislation which crosses his desk or if he’ll just outright renege.
The Committee Hearing was still held, though. It was rather pointless, but it served as a great distraction for the psycho mommies of Moms Demand Action. They were pretty clueless about today’s happenings until long after the fact. And I still testified. I’d worked on my testimony and was pleased with it and I was hopeful that even if one anti there was open to listening that maybe it could make a difference. Although I had to condense it to three minutes due to time constraints imposed, here it is in its full version:
Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Committee Members,
I come before you today first and foremost as a citizen. I am also an NRA certified instructor, leader of a 50 member women’s shooting chapter and a supporter of the right and responsibility to defend oneself. As a woman, I am also part of the fastest growing demographic of gun owners.
I have read this bill in its entirety and you would be right to assume that I am strongly in favor of it. But please do not employ what you know of me thus far to form an opinion regarding the basis for my support. While most consider it a “gun bill,” I’d like to offer another perspective. It’s about much more than guns. It’s about private property and civil rights.
As someone who is active in my church as a Stephen Minister, Sunday School teacher and choir member, I often find myself walking back to my car located in one of the parking lots scattered about downtown Marietta in the dark. Current law prevents me from legally being able to defend myself properly in this situation should the need arise, regardless of my church’s position on the matter. Churches are private property and should be treated as such. No government should be able to grant certain private property rights to one private entity yet deny the same to another. It astounds me that any church official would be against HB 875. Do they not want to make their own choices? If that is the case, then perhaps the state should also mandate what Bible they must use and what sacraments they may perform and how much in tithes they may accept from each member and where they must be directed. I think we all know they would be livid if we were up here debating taking such choices from them. I’ve heard proponents make the argument that HB 875 places a mandate on churches. This fallacy is ignorant at best. HB 875 places absolutely no requirement on any church whatsoever. It simply returns to them the power to make their own choice. This bill empowers them to choose what is right and proper for THEIR congregation. And I can’t speak for anyone else but when I saw church officials standing before the House Committee decrying this bill, I felt a little less respect for them. You see, I am a member of PC(USA) and my church has about 2500 members. I have never been asked to cast a vote on where I stand on HB 875, nor have my fellow church members. So I was quite disappointed to see Rev. Gary Charles of PC(USA) speaking on my behalf because he does not speak for me. He does not speak for anyone in my church. Churches are private property. If church government wishes to make the decision to be a gun-free zone, church government should be responsible for that decision and not be allowed to pass the buck to the government any longer.
Likewise, bars are private property and should also enjoy equal treatment under the law. Granted, I agree that it’s highly irresponsible to mix guns with alcohol but why should I be presumed to be an irresponsible person incapable of possessing my firearm and good judgment simply because I walk into a bar? It’s legal to carry a firearm into any Longhorn restaurant and a person can drink just as much alcohol there as they can at any bar. Seeing as the ability to legally carry into restaurants which serve alcohol has not created mass violations, actually none that I’ve heard, of OCGA 16-11-134 which prohibits the discharge of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs under most circumstances, there is no basis to conclude that allowing legal carry of firearms in bars would create such incidents.
Shifting focus to civil rights, I would like to begin by pointing out that victims are not allowed the opportunity to know when or where they may be victimized. Being one of millions of women who have been victimized at some point in their lives, I’ve had the unfortunate need to defend my life and safety. In 1999 I found myself being chased by my ex-husband through my front yard with an ASP baton like many police carry. There was no help in sight and no one to depend upon to save me but myself. I felt with a complete absence of doubt that my life was in jeopardy at that moment. Thinking quickly, I drew my carry gun at that time from my purse and ordered him to not take another step toward me. That day, I was able to defend myself and deter him from the harm he intended to inflict upon me without firing a single shot. Had I not been properly equipped, I feel very confident in saying that I would not be alive today. I recount this event before you to point out that had I lived in public housing rather than my own private residence at that time, I would have been denied by law the opportunity to defend myself. That is fundamentally wrong. Rights cannot be bought and cannot be denied based upon someone’s socio-economic status. As a private property owner, I have that right to defend myself in my own home. Why should anyone in public housing not enjoy that same right? My life is no more precious than theirs and I am no more worthy of the right to defend myself than are they. We are all equal in God’s eyes and we should all have the legal ability to enjoy the same rights which are endowed to us by our Creator and our Constitution. This is an issue close to my heart. I recently was challenged by someone opposed to HB 875 and was actually asked why, as a “middle class white woman,” did I care about residents in public housing? In addition to finding such a question wholly offensive simply on principle, the fact is my mother grew up in public housing. Public housing residents are not second class citizens. My mother is not a second class citizen. She has experienced both poverty and wealth, neither of which had any effect on the value of her life. I would not want my mother or anyone’s mother to be denied the right to defend themselves because they cannot afford private housing.
In this heated debate over HB875, I’ve seen a great deal of input from other states and I have to ask myself why we have allowed one moment of it. I feel certain that if I were to walk over to my neighbor’s home and proceed to tell him how to run his household I would quickly be asked to leave and mind my own business. Tell New York, Arizona and other states who wish to control what happens in Georgia to mind their own business.
I urge you to represent the interests of Georgia citizens, not out-of-state special interest groups.
I urge you to listen to the voices of your constituents rather than the voices of a few who have no respect for liberty, choice or my right to defend myself.
I urge you to put a stop to the unfair treatment under the law created by our current restrictions
I urge you to serve at the will of your constituents, not at the will of those who may promise political favor in return for serving their personal interests.
I urge you to uphold the Constitutions of The United States and Georgia as you are sworn to do.
And finally, I urge you to recognize that current and further restrictions upon where carry is permitted by law is, at its core, rooted in distrust of the lawful citizenry and, as such, is not in accordance with a free society rooted in liberty.
I implore you to support and favor this bill as-is.