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Georgia Senate committee to explore safe gun storage

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(The Center Square) — A Georgia Senate study committee will soon study safe firearm storage and whether state lawmakers should act or consider legislation.

The Senate Study Committee on Safe Firearm Storage, created with Senate Resolution 203, is tasked with undertaking a study and recommending any action or legislation.

State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, the committee’s chair, said in a statement that the “committee’s work is vital to safeguarding our communities and preventing future harm for our children.”

“Ensuring the safe storage of firearms is critical to reducing firearm violence and preventing accidental deaths,” Jones said. “With an estimated 5.4 million American children living in homes with access to loaded and unlocked firearms, the importance of this issue cannot be overstated.”

Kirk Evans, an attorney and president of U.S. LawShield, said that based on other states’ actions, lawmakers could consider three main buckets of actions or opt not to take any action.

“The first bucket is the strictest, and they require an actual locking device, like a trigger lock or a gun safe if children are present; [a] physical locking device,” Evans said. “The middle bucket is you must reasonably secure your firearms so that they cannot be accessed by children, and the penalty kicks in whether or not a child ever gets access to the firearm.

“You could have a son who’s been hunting since he was three years old, and he’s the only child in the house,” Evans added. “If you leave your gun out, nothing bad ever happens, the sun never touches it, you might very well … be guilty of a crime just because you had your firearm out. The last bucket is [the] same law — you have to reasonably prevent children from getting access to a firearm. But the penalties only kick in when the child gets the gun and starts to do things with it.”

With Republicans controlling the legislature, Georgia leaders have taken a pro-Second Amendment stance. In April 2022, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, a “constitutional carry” measure allowing Georgians to carry guns without the need for a state-issued license.

“What’s available to Georgia at one of those three buckets or somewhere in between or some combination thereof,” Evans added.