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Gun Rights Vs. Public Discomfort In Georgia

National News Top News Tribune News Service

Gun Rights Vs. Public Discomfort In Georgia


By Ernie Suggs and Rhonda Cook, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)

ATLANTA — Barbara Cheng saw the news last week about a man walking through Atlanta’s airport with an assault rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition. Instantly, she flashed on the time two years ago when she and her kids strolled into a McDonald’s to find an armed man eating a Big Mac.

“The place was eerily quiet,” Cheng said of the restaurant along I-75 in North Georgia. “Obviously we weren’t the only ones disturbed.”

Her children couldn’t stop staring at the gun.

“I was incredibly angry because he obviously thought his so-called ‘rights’ trumped everyone else’s in that restaurant,” she said. “I hated that man and I still hate him. These are bullies.”

If people are nervous, Jim Cooley said, that’s their problem.

“It’s not a protest. We have rights, and the government thinks they can convert your right into a privilege,” said Cooley, a retired truck driver who was disabled by a heart attack.

Cooley was questioned, but not arrested. He reminded an officer outside the airport that under Georgia law, police may not detain anyone to find out whether they have a permit to carry a firearm (which is required for handguns only and not long guns like the AR-15).

“I was doing everything I was allowed to do within the law and all of a sudden I start getting approached because the police got phone calls,” Cooley said. “Instead of the police approaching me, they need to start educating the public. Put up signs in the airport saying firearms can be legally carried in the airport.”

He filmed and posted the incident, adding his experience to dozens of others in which gun rights activists have boldly armed themselves to make their points.

Cooley has been called crazy, a hero, confused, a patriot.

Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, joined those who said Cooley was technically correct and within his rights.

“In the unrestricted areas of the airport, the right to carry does exist,” the governor said. “I think that there again, that’s one of those balancing acts between individual freedom and general welfare of the public.”

Kathryn Grant, co-founder of GunSense Georgia Coalition, thinks the balance is off.

“There is not an airport official in the world who would say that carrying an AR-15 makes sense,” Grant said. “So the question is why would that be allowed to happen?”

In 2014, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 60, known as the “Guns Everywhere Bill,” which for the first time expanded where Georgians could legally carry firearms, including into public schools, bars, churches, and some government buildings. Local school boards still have the authority to decide which school staffers may carry guns on campus.

Higher education is stricter. The University System bans guns from campus buildings, including dormitories. The only exception to the school and university restrictions is for gun owners, with a carry permit, who are picking up or dropping off someone.

Under the “Guns Everywhere Bill,” law enforcement officers may not detain an armed person for the sole purpose of asking whether the person has a license to carry a weapon.

Sheriff Howard Sills, the former president of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said after the law changed, several calls came into the Putnam County sheriff’s office from people promising to test the new provisions.

“We were inundated with damn crazy people,” Sills said. “This airport thing is just an idjit who’s doing some crazy (stuff) to draw attention to himself. Or he’s looking for a lawsuit.”

Sills said the fatal shooting in Carrollton last week is an example of problems with the law. An officer responded to a report of an armed man at a gas station. According to a recording of the encounter, the officer first asked 40-year-old Kenneth Joel Dothard whether he had a carry permit and then whether he was a convicted felon, which would prohibit him from having a gun.

Dothard said he was a felon.

Cpl. Chad Cook repeatedly told Dothard not to pull his holstered gun. Cook shot and killed Dothard as he argued that he had the right to have the gun.

Noting that he can question and arrest a fisherman for not having a license, Sills said the gun law is absurd. “If I see you walking down the street with a handgun on your person, I can’t stop you. I can ask … but they don’t have to answer. … There’s nothing I can do.”

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  1. ORAXX June 12, 2015

    No other advanced country on earth takes this utterly insane approach. How is the public supposed to judge the intent of an individual packing an assault rifle in a public place? If is see such a person, the last thing in the world I’m going to assume is that he’s there to protect me.

  2. StormeeATL June 12, 2015

    Not afraid of anything because he has a gun?! No, carrying a gun everywhere means he is afraid and paranoid of everything!

    1. hicusdicus June 14, 2015

      Afraid and paranoid you like to use those words it makes you feel superior. The rest of us are just frightened little mice. By the way where is everywhere?

  3. Faraday_Cat June 12, 2015

    “The government has made people so afraid of guns, the moment they see them they automatically get scared and that’s wrong,” First off, it’s not the government making people afraid of guns, it’s both the fact that they are deadly instruments and that they have been used to inflict death in the past that makes people get scared. That, and the fact that unless you are wearing a uniform, the general public has no idea 1.) what your training and qualifications are with that firearm and 2.) what your intentions are…that’s kind of a big part of why most people carrying lethal weapons wear uniforms. I suppose you could add 3.) we can’t tell if you are going to use the gun to settle a dispute…since you have ready access to it and all…like that guy in the theater that shot another patron because of an argument. What would he have done if he didn’t have the gun handy…would the other guy still have wound up dead?

    1. Independent1 June 12, 2015

      Who’s to blame for all the angst going on around the country because of 2nd amendment gun nuts believing they ‘have a right to carry a gun’, are the 5 right-wing judges of the Supreme Court that bastardized the intended meaning of the 2nd Amendment. From the time the 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791 until these 5 bought and paid for judges made a totally misguided ruling in 2008 (for over 215 years), every judge and court in America understood that the 2nd Amendment applied only to Americans who were involved in supporting a militia. And since militias are no longer a valid form of government service – no American truly has ‘a right’ to carry a gun. Only in the minds of 5 corrupt Supreme Court judges that have been bought out by the NRA and Sheldon Adelson to do their bidding.

      Madison wrote the 2nd Amendment to ensure that each colony would have the wherewithal to protect itself by having a well armed band of citizens with weapons that would be available on a moments notice to respond to a colony being attacked by either foreign intruders or hostile Indians at the time. Madison never even dreamed that 200 years later society would have reached the point it has today where misguided citizens believe they need to pack a gun for supposed self-protection. Which has be proven time and again to be a total falicy

  4. Dominick Vila June 13, 2015

    The issue is not whether or not vigilantes are allowed to carry military grade weapons openly in public places, but whether doing such a thing makes sense. Obviously, if Federal and State laws, not to mention the Constitution, allow citizens to do certain things we are all free to exercise those freedoms, but does it make sense? Why should anyone go to an airport, or a public place, with an AR-15? The overwhelming majority of Americans own guns, and keep them in a safe place at home. It makes no sense whatsoever to go around intimidating law abiding citizens simply to prove that we can do so if we want to. There are times when logic and plain common sense must take precedence over the right to prove something that does not have to be proved because we are all well aware of it.

    1. jmprint June 13, 2015

      Dominick it looks like we are doomed the republicans don’t have any logic, nor common sense.

      1. Dominick Vila June 13, 2015

        …and a complicit media plays along.

        1. hicusdicus June 15, 2015

          The media is just another form of entertainment to capture viewers for advertisers. Most of these people have such a short attention span the can’t even follow a full length movie.

          1. DJKatieOrganic June 15, 2015

            And by looking at some of the media’s ratings numbers, it’s a wonder any advertisers are even paying to sponsor all of the garbage they spew out today…

          2. hicusdicus June 15, 2015

            Our planet has become a wondrous place. I wonder with great perplexity what in the hell is going on. I know , God gave humans nukes and also created cockroaches which seem to be immune to radiation. I wonder what his point could be?

    2. hicusdicus June 14, 2015

      They are not military grade weapons. Some of them are higher grade than military. Do don’t have any idea what you are talking about do you? How do we know if it was not you doing it just to try and make decent people look bad? I know your kind I have been to the county fair.

      1. Dominick Vila June 14, 2015

        Do you think a mother going to a grocery store to buy a bag of Pampers for her child will feel more comfortable knowing that the AR-15 strapped across the chest of a person she does not know is going to feel better if someone tells her that the weapon the vigilante is holding is not military grade? How would she, or anyone else, know what is in the mind of the person holding such weapon in a place frequented by unarmed people?
        Gun violence in the USA is not a myth, it is a reality that we must address and solve. BTW, nobody is talking about disarmament, banning handguns or hunting rifles, what many of us are concerned about are the refusal to expand the Brady Act to make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to buy guns, and open carry policies whose only purpose is to intimidate law abiding citizens. FYI, I own a .38 caliber handgun that I keep in a safe place.

        1. DEFENDER88 June 14, 2015

          GUN VIOLENCE

          “You” may not be talking about gun, disarming, ammo bans etc but many on the “Left” are.

          Mostly behind closed doors in group think. And at high levels in the current Dem Admin.

          Since they know the public will not support it.

          Two of the biggest problems we have are:

          1) The drug trade

          Most “gun violence” is propagated by drug related deals in the “hood”.

          Addressing the underlying drivers for this will be difficult to impossible until we wake up and legalize most all drugs and cut the legs from under the Cartels.

          2) Mass/School shootings

          Also mostly drug related.

          But a totally different solution.

          The one type of drugs I think “should be highly controlled”, and they are Legal!

          Anti-Depressants – They are given out now like candy and have lead to many, if not most, of the mass school shootings.

          “These” “should” be Highly controlled.

          Seems “upside – down”

          The drugs that do not lead to mass killings are illegal – pot, cocaine, heroin, etc.

          The drugs that “do” lead to mass killings are Legal – Anti-Depressants.

          As with cars and drunk drivers – its not the object, it is the bad behavior.

          So it is with guns.

          1. hicusdicus June 14, 2015

            Most people go through their entire life and never realize they are just the means used to accommodate the rich and powerful. All I can do is zig zag from track to track and hope the train misses me.

          2. hicusdicus June 15, 2015

            The best way to stop all this violence is get rid of humans. They seem to trash everything they touch.

          3. DJKatieOrganic June 15, 2015

            Yea give the planet back to the animals… haha!..Somehow I’m thinking though we would have to first remove all of their claws & teeth.. which by the way, similar to knives & common household items, account for most of the deaths of the other animals on the planet. (sarc)

          4. hicusdicus June 15, 2015

            I wonder what it will be like on our planet earth when the population hits 14 billion? Gun violence will be mandatory if one wants to eat.

          5. DJKatieOrganic June 15, 2015

            that’s a scary thought.. but it could happen…

          6. hicusdicus June 15, 2015

            Its called subsidized breeding. History will show that we live in the best of times of human history. Enjoy it, it won’t last long.

          7. DJKatieOrganic June 15, 2015

            Don’t you mean “in-breeding”..

          8. hicusdicus June 15, 2015

            I was trying to be polite to the have not’s. I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable while they are playing hide the weenie.

          9. DJKatieOrganic June 15, 2015

            we’ve still got our Nun-chucks, swords & sling shot…

        2. hicusdicus June 14, 2015

          The only way for me to think like you is get a lobotomy. Open carry is stupid. Its like walking around with your fly unzipped and your business hanging out. Every one has seen one but to see one in public makes most people uncomfortable. It is not necessary and accomplishes nothing. Very similar to a political activists comments.

          1. Dominick Vila June 14, 2015

            Looks like you got a lobotomy because I share your opinion on open carry.

          2. hicusdicus June 14, 2015

            Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. As I have stated I am not of any political affiliation. I want to ask you in all sincerity do you really think think Hilary Clinton could lead this country out of the predicament it is in? Do you truly trust what she says? Do you think any of the candidates could make any difference? I think the people of this country have moved so far from reality that there will be a continued slide into the perfect storm of political chaos and collapse. I also think there is a very good chance that a financial collapse will wipe out all the pipe dreams of liberals and conservatives alike. Who knows that may be the only way back to political health and the salvation of our great democratic experiment. But what do I know I have lobotomized.

          3. Dominick Vila June 14, 2015

            I believe Hillary Clinton is as trustworthy as most politicians. I also believe she has the education, experience, and character to lead the country; and that she is as qualified and capable as anyone else to do an excellent job.
            The truth is that we are in much better shape today, as a nation, than we were 6.5 years ago. Our economy is growing, job creation is on the rise and unemployment is down to normal levels. Bankruptcies and foreclosures are down to normal levels. Our corporations are doing very well, posting high profits, and the DOW Index reflects that fact. Deficit spending has been reduced significantly.
            We do have serious problems, ranging from salary stagnation, to financial inequality, to racial tensions and gun violence, but these are not new problems and, somehow, we have always figured out a way to work around them. Sadly, neither party has figured out a way to solve them.
            Foreign policy has reduced the number of U.S. casualties to a minimum. However, turmoil is as intense as ever, and it is likely to continue as long as people inhabit planet Earth. The best foreign policy approach, as far as I am concerned, is to recognize that we are not the policemen of the world, that while we may be able to control people physically, we cannot control how they think or keep them down forever. We have to learn to let people in distant lands solve their own problems. Our tendency to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries usually makes things worse for the indigenous people, and for us.

          4. hicusdicus June 14, 2015

            Hilary Clinton, You know nothing about her except what you read. I live in Arkansas and know people who have dealt with her. I will let it go at that. There is no such thing as gun violence its just plain ole violence. I will not give up the only means I have defend myself. You are correct we are not the worlds policeman but we can not under any circumstances let a rogue state become a nuclear threat to us. We can send 20000 plus soldiers to their deaths or we can lose 20 million plus civilians and most likely our sovereignty . Take your pick. As far as the economy goes we must read completely different reports. Most sectors of the economy are in some kind of a bubble. Financial inequality is the new buzz word. There never has been nor will there ever be financial equality. As long as people have different colored skin and cultures there will be racial tension, its the human way. The biggest curse ever given to humans is religion. That is a whole different topic and it is pointless to even approach it. Every body has their opinions and are cock sure they are right. Neither one of us has any say about much of anything. I don’t want to see a financial collapse or any kind of Apocalypse. I am in the top 10 percent financially of the worlds population and I don’t want to lose it. We will see what happens and then all the chit chat will cease.

          5. Dominick Vila June 15, 2015

            There is no doubt in my mind that Hillary, like everyone else, is far from being perfect. With that in mind, I believe it is wrong to hold her to a different standard.
            If your reference to a “rogue state” involves Iran, I have no choice but to disagree. Persia has a long and impressive history, the Iranian people are far from being the monsters we pretend they are, and their actions during the past decades do not involve overt territorial expansionism. The agreement being negotiated with them is designed to prevent their ability to develop and build nuclear weapons, while allowing them to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Even when we accept the possibility that Iran is determined to destroy the USA and our allies, we would be well advised to consider the fact that they don’t even have inter-continental missiles to deliver their nuclear warheads, and that we have the largest arsenal of nuclear warheads and delivery systems in the world. We can incinerate half the world in a matter of minutes, and the rest of the world, including our foes, are well aware of that fact. Objectivity and common sense are in order.
            Nobody expects or even wants financial equality, if nothing else because such goal would simply establish a new financial standard that would achieve absolutely nothing. Trying to achieve that goal contributed to the demise of communism, and prove it is counter productive and contrary to the aspirations of most people. What so many of us object to is the fact that the the largest financial schism between the haves and the have not is in the United States, and that instead of shrinking it is becoming wider.
            There have always been weaknesses in specific facets of our economy, and that trend is likely to continue. The truth, for those interested in facts, is that we are in the midst of the longest period of economic expansion in history, that instead of losing jobs we are creating jobs, the deficit spending has been reduced considerably, that consumer spending is up, inflation is non-existent, credit is low, private sector investment and hiring are high, foreclosures and bankruptcies are back to normal levels, the dollar is strong compared to other currencies, and the short term future of our economy looks promising. Does this mean that everything is peachy? Not by a long shot. There is a lot of speculation in the market, our failure to invest in infrastructure and education is going to bite us in the butt in years to comes, and will increase our dependence on foreign professionals to do work Americans should be doing. Last, but not least, our tax system must be reformed with special focus on making it fair, ensuring that everyone pays their fair share, and that government revenues cover outlays. Fiscal irresponsibility leads to disaster, and when it comes to the USA we have nobody to blame for it but ourselves, we, the people, who insist on not paying for what we need and benefit from, and never offer an alternative, other than borrowing and then lamenting that tendency, to remain solvent and continue to enjoy the standard of living we have.

          6. hicusdicus June 15, 2015

            I can tell from your comments that you live in an intellectual bubble. I have no idea where you come up with the things you say. Your thinking does not fit reality but who cares its just pompous fire side chit chat. If you insist on lecturing find someone who knows less than you do there are plenty of unknowledgeable people on this site. You can fill their heads with misinformation it won’t work with me. I do know if the US gets enough people who think the way you do I doubt if it will last another 25 years at best. We will all be dead by then so who cares. Have a good day and keep your gun in a well hidden safe place so it will unavailable to you if you need it. That’s the best way to avoid gun violence..

          7. CPAinNewYork June 17, 2015

            I don’t believe that any politician is trustworthy. I also suspect that she had a hand in Vince Foster’s “suicide.”

  5. KDJ54 June 13, 2015

    If Cooley had been a woman dressed in a hijab, and walking through an airport or a young black man, all hell would have broke lose. White guy with a powerful gun strapped to his shoulder, he’s a patriot. Our values on this issue are so messed up.

    1. DEFENDER88 June 14, 2015

      Since you want to stigmatize all gun owners by the acts of a few – lets follow that line of thinking:
      The last woman I saw wearing a Hijab produced an AK47 from under it and shot several people.

      Although more typically they disguise hidden suicide vests and blow up several more people.

  6. DEFENDER88 June 13, 2015

    Something we can agree on.

    As a member of the “Responsible” gun owning and carrying community I/we agree “Open Carry” especially an Assault Rifle is ill conceived, unwise and yes down to the stupid and ignorant level.

    To us it is wrong on several levels – Tactically, socially, politically, and others.

    Not to mention it makes us look bad.

    Along those lines – when Islamic terrorists threaten and kill others – we don’t Blame all who believe in Islam.

    When a drunk driver kills someone, we don’t blame all drivers.

    So it should be with the “Open Carry” people.

    Don’t blame or even associate them with us.

    We, almost universally, strongly advise that this NOT be done.

    ‘We” means probably 99.9% of the gun owning/carry community.

    Of the some 100 million, or so U.S. gun owners, how many reports do you hear of “Open Carry” like this Airport thing?

    Our goal is “Self Defense” not intimidation.

    The vast majority of those who “carry” go to a lot of effort to NOT “show” our gun.

    ie Take seriously the “Concealed” part of Concealed Carry.

    Good concealed holsters(mine cost $100) and methods cost extra money and take effort.

    It is not easy to conceal a gun but still able to access it quickly if needed.

    It takes a lot of effort, training, etc and some money but we accept that.


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