Georgia Senate passes "Shoot First" bill

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

A controversial bill passed today in the Georgia State Senate would allow you to use deadly force if you feel threatened.

Georgia already has a law that allows people to protect their homes.

But this new bill co-sponsored by Columbia County senator Jim Whitehead expands those rights.

So will it be better protection, or is it a license to kill?

Gun owner Randy Padgett says, “It’s time for law-abiding citizens to shoot first, ask questions later.”

Padgett says the law is long overdue.

“It worked in the old west and it'll work here,” he says.

A bill before state lawmakers would make it legal for Georgians to use deadly force any time, and now just about any place if they feel their life or property is in danger.

“I am in tremendous support of this particular legislation,” says Steve Fishman, owner of a gun store. “What it really does is take the fear out of you protecting yourself.”

Charson Anthony and co-worker Jai West both know the feeling of being attacked.

“He had the gun pointed right at me in my face,” says Anthony.

“Someone tried to hold me up in a parking lot once,” says West.

But neither support the proposed legislation to shoot first, especially in cases where there is no weapon used.

“I think if you have your act together you can pretty much get, talk yourself out of situations like that,” says West.

Anthony says, “If the guy doesn’t have a weapon that you can see and he's just trying to use physical force without having a gun on him, you shouldn’t have the right to kill someone because of that.”

And while others say the law will increase gun sales and violence, Fishman and Sergeant Richard Roundtree of the Richmond County sheriff’s department disagree.

“I don’t think it will be a blanket law for a person to go out and just kill randomly based on a small threat of their lives,” says Roundtree. “We don’t think that’s going to occur at all.”

“It’s going to be a good law and it’s going to pass,” says Fishman.

Sergeant Roundtree says it’s important for people to remember that even if you kill someone because you feel threatened and claim self-defense, typically the sheriff's office will treat the case as a potential homicide.

About five other states have adopted this law, and right now South Carolina and Mississippi are also considering it.

A new bill would allow Carolinians to shoot and kill an attacker, and it broadens the lawful use of force to include protecting your vehicle and place of business, as well as your home.

The bill unanimously passed the South Carolina house and is now in a senate committee.


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