Gov. Nathan Deal plans to sign legislation next week that would vastly expand where Georgians can legally carry firearms.
House Bill 60, which passed in the final hours of this year's legislative session, would expand where Georgians may legally carry firearms, including schools, bars, churches and government buildings. A recent analysis also said it could let felons use the state's "stand your ground" rules to claim self-defense if they feel threatened.
Gun rights groups cheered the news that Deal would sign the measure, which critics have dubbed the "guns everywhere" bill, on Wednesday at a north Georgia event. GeorgiaCarry.org, which had instructed supporters to deluge Deal's office with calls of support, told its members they could back off.
Deal will join House Speaker David Ralston at the bill signing event at a riverfront pavilion in Ellijay, which is in Ralston's district, said Brian Robinson, the governor's spokesman.
Deal's support for the bill was never in doubt. Vetoing the bill would have risked alienating the powerful gun rights lobby ahead of a competitive May 20 primary. Even Democrat Jason Carter, his party's nominee for governor, voted for the measure and later proclaimed himself an "NRA Democrat."
The bill has attracted international media attention. Opponents including former Rep. Gabby Giffords have waged campaigns against the bill. Supporters have ratcheted up the pressure, too. The National Rifle Association called the measure “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform bill in state history.”