By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA - After massacres like the Colorado theater shooting and the Newtown school shooting, many Americans were pushing for a crackdown on guns.
But in Georgia, there's a new bill in the works that, if passed, would mean easier access to guns.
House Bill 512 passed in the House on Crossover Day on Thursday with an overwhelming vote of 117-56.
It allows law abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons to places like school campuses, bars and churches.
"I just believe having weapons readily available in these types of places is just not the right thing to do," Representative Calvin Smyre, says.
Smyre was one of the 56 no votes. He says he heeded he advice of university presidents and the Georgia Board of Regents.
"They say guns should not be allowed on the campuses," Smyre says.
But for gun supporters, Thursday's vote was a small victory.
"It still comes down to everybody has a right to protect themselves and that's the essence of the bill, to give that person the ability to protect themselves in places they couldn't before," Bob Bessinger, the General Manager at Shooters, says.
Supporters say they don't think the new bill would result in more violence at places like school and church.
"That can happen with or without the ability to carry concealed. Those people aren't generally following guidelines because last time I looked murder was illegal," Bessinger says.
Local law enforcement officials say if the bill does pass, it won't change how officers enforce the law.
"How the law is written and approved and put forward is how we are going to enforce it. From the law enforcement stand point, it's cut and dry," Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr says.
The bill now heads to the Georgia Senate for approval. Even if the Senate passes the bill, it's still not a sure thing. Governor Nathan Deal would have to sign the bill into law for the new changes to take effect.
The bill also allows school officials to decide whether or not to arm employees on campus and allows those who have received voluntary mental health treatment to receive a carry license.
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