by Charles O. Hendrix Jr.
[Note: Sergeant First Class Charles O. Hendrix Jr. served for 20 years in the U.S. Army and medically retired in 1992. He lives in Pickens County, Georgia.]
It’s the first day of school. Imagine weepy parents and eager teachers. Imagine clingy children, it’s the first time we leave them in the care of our school. Some kids are thrilled with their new found independence.
Now imagine that teacher armed with an AR-15, a lightweight, 5.56 mm, .223-caliber, magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. A weapon we see in the movies. But it’s not a movie. It’s Georgia and it could be real, with passage of HB 875.
The pro-gun lobby would have us believe that arming our teachers will make our schools safer – but we know that’s not true. How can it be true when the same gun lobbyists fight to prevent background checks that would lessen the likelihood of, felons, domestic abusers, and the mentally ill from buying guns? Especially knowing that close to 40% of gun sales transpire with no background check of any type conducted, but oppose closing that loophole. Especially when all deterrents meant to dissuade individuals from breaking the law as well as punishment is for all intent, removed.
This proposal reduces punishments from criminal to civil offenses in some cases with ridiculously small fines for violating any portion of this proposed law. It in essence encourages carrying guns in places not allowed because there is no punishment to deter it. This bill may as well be called the “Oops I forgot Bill.” All a person has to do is claim “oops I forgot” they were carrying a gun in to a place not allowed and there is ZERO option to charge a person with a criminal offense for violating this law if they do so repeatedly, so why would they obey the law?
This law is a very bad idea. The gun lobby and the state legislature are allowing online sales, but this legislation does not address that. Why not? Anybody wanting to buy a gun, be they a criminal, mentally unstable, etc., can simply click on armslist.com and purchase a firearm. I believe that poses an unnecessary and avoidable danger to every citizen in Georgia, not to mention my children and grandchildren.
What does it say about Georgia when the inclusion of Stand Your Ground in this bill, allows the use of deadly force, on the streets of our cities, that is less restrictive than our military in a combat zone. Our military must first warn and then give the threat the opportunity to retreat before employing use of deadly force. With Stand your Ground, all a person has to do is claim they felt threatened and all is forgotten. No warning, no chance to retreat, just pull out a gun and just start shooting if you feel threatened. Our streets are not a combat zone, but they might be if this bill becomes law.
We should be focused on: responsible gun ownership. I support the Second Amendment and I’ve helped fight for our Constitutional rights. Every generation of my family has served our nation in the Armed Forces since the Civil War. We fought in World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq .
I know guns. I received extensive weapons training while serving in the U.S. Army for over 20 years. I served with various infantry divisions as a munitions and explosives technician. I trained with the M14 rifle. I trained with the M16 rifle, which is a military select-fire adaptation of the AR-15. I know the .45 caliber automatic pistol and I’ve been trained to use the .50 caliber machine gun. I qualified expert with all of them.
I know guns. They are dangerous weapons, which have no business in our schools, our houses of worship, bars, on college campuses, or in government buildings regardless of security screening equipment, regardless of opt-in or opt-out provisions — all places where the Republican controlled Georgia state legislature is working overtime with the pro-gun lobby to allow people to carry guns virtually anywhere without fear of legal sanctions of any significance.
As service members, each of us had to pass a background check to carry our guns, and we were committed and trained to the responsible use of our weapons. Now we need to stand up and fight the gun lobby and send a clear signal that we stand with our country in doing what we can to protect our rights and our families by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.
On the day Congresswoman Giffords was shot, along with 18 others — six of whom lost their lives — a man was nearby with a gun and ran to offer help. That man later said he was glad he didn’t shoot his weapon that day as he nearly shot the wrong person. We should be fighting for common-sense legislation to close the loopholes so that felons and the dangerously mentally ill can’t buy guns online or at gun shows, avoiding a background check.
The bottom-line: Guns in my grandkids’ preschool classroom are not the answer.
Georgia’s HB 875 will next be considered by the state Senate. Please contact these committee members, as soon as possible. Ask them to vote NO on HB 875.
GA Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee: