House Bill 650, the largest 2nd Amendment rights bill introduced this session, is now sitting on Gov. Perdue’s desk waiting for her signature or veto. HB 650 is an omnibus bill introduced with several provisions that firearms rights supporters have been clamoring for.
The bill includes a stronger Castle Doctrine, expanding the scope in which one can use lethal force as self-defense and moves the burden of proof from the individual declaring self-defense to his/her attacker. The Castle Doctrine has been the cornerstone of this bill and a much-wanted piece of legislation to allow individuals to defend themselves.
It also increases the scope in which concealed carry permit holders may carry weapons, such as in state parks. However, language in the bill allowing permit holders to leave weapons in their car on employee property was removed in an amendment and the provision allowing concealed carry permit holders to keep weapons in their cars on educational property was removed in the Senate substitute of the bill. Fortunately, language still remains in the bill that requires law enforcement to prove individuals guilty of carrying a firearm onto educational property knowingly and willingly carried the firearm. This section will hopefully help people who accidentally carry a firearm onto such properties avoid becoming accidental criminals.
Beyond those aspects, HB 650 also reduces some of the legal burden on gun owners. Several parts of this bill were designed to limit the chances of making accidental criminals out of people by reducing the amount of “patchwork gun-free zones” that often many people do not know exist. Many times people carry firearms onto areas where they are forbidden without realizing that they are forbidden, making them criminals. The previous paragraph illustrates some of provisions of the law that are meant to reduce these less obvious gun-free zones. Furthermore, the bill also includes a provision disallowing local governments to enact handgun regulation outside of government premises and recreational facilities so that people do not run into the same “patchwork” problems.
Now that HB 650 is awaiting Perdue’s decision, many gun owners are anxious whether or not she will sign the bill. If it is signed into law, this will be one of the largest victories for 2nd Amendment rights in decades. If not it may well ensure that Perdue earns the title of “The Veto Governor.” Many are hopeful that her moderately pro-gun stance and the removal of “lightning rod” issues from the bill will prompt her to sign it, though her recent attempts to appeal to her partisan base may hinder her willingness to sign the bill into law.