Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a sweeping gun bill into law on Wednesday, allowing patrons to carry firearms into bars, nightclubs, school classrooms, and certain government buildings that lack security personnel or devices.
"As governor, I have signed legislation that protects the rights to keep and bear arms. It is a right that is ingrained in the very fabric of our nation," Deal, a Republican, said moments before signing the controversial bill. "America today cherishes this right so that people who follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from those who don't follow the rules."
The law also provides religious leaders the decision to "opt in" to allow guns on their worship premises. Additionally, the legislation grants access to permit-holders to carry guns into Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints in airports with no penalty.
"We live in a dangerous world, and while I cannot begin to explain the reasons someone might seek to take the life of another, I want wholeheartedly that Georgians, should they choose to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their families, [to] have that option," State Rep. Rick Jasperse, a Republican and author of the bill, said Wednesday.
Jasperse and other supporters have tried to pass similar legislation for the past two years.
Deal, who previously supported loosening gun restrictions and holds an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, plans to run for re-election on Nov. 4.