The rate of applications last month for permits to carry concealed weapons reached numbers unprecedented so far as probate court officials can recall. There were 1,212 applications in December — almost double the 642 in December 2011, Probate Judge Kelli Wolk told the Marietta Daily Journal. Of that number, 843 followed the Dec. 14 Newton massacre.
More people are turning to concealed firearms as the answer to mass shootings, while gun advocates are calling for arming teachers or stationing volunteer armed guards at schools. Certainly, schools and law enforcement officials should take steps to improve security at the schools.
That’s happening across the country. In neighboring Cherokee County, Sheriff Roger Garrison of Cherokee County has beefed up the presence of officers at his county’s schools. The officers will be more visible around the schools, assisting the school district and its police department in providing “additional security presence in and around its campuses,” said Lt. Jay Baker, sheriff’s department spokesman. The sheriff has developed a plan that would commit 45 to 50 more deputies to the school security program, depending upon additional funding.
Another reaction to the massacre is a push by some gun rights advocates for repeal of Georgia laws on concealed weapons. State Rep.-elect Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) already has pre-filed a bill to eliminate the requirement to license the carrying of a concealed weapon anywhere in Georgia. His philosophy: “If you can vote, you can carry.” He also wants to allow guns to be carried on the campus of any public or private college or university in the state. Would that make things safer or more dangerous?
Another Gregory proposal hearkens back many years to another state legislator, then-Rep. Mitchell Kaye of Cobb, who likewise wanted to allow firearms in churches, restaurants and other public places. Gregory’s bill would leave it up to churches whether to allow guns in their services or on their property. He says it is a property rights issue. Maybe so. But how many worshipers want to be surrounded by armed people? Although the idea behind Gregory’s proposal is to give church attendees the right to carry concealed firearms to defend themselves and others in the event a shooter starts firing, consider the ramifications: Even church members sometimes get into heated disputes about various things. If someone lost his temper and there was a gun at hand, something really bad could happen. And should there be a sign telling visitors: “Members of this church are armed”?
Sheriff Garrison of Cherokee made a good point. He said, “I’m of the personal opinion that we don’t need to turn our schools into a militarized zone where it negatively impacts students. We’re staying close but at least at arm’s length at this point.”
That’s the kind of sound thinking needed as opposed to simply eliminating the licensing of concealed weapons.