ATLANTA -- Georgia lawmakers will have a variety of new gun bills on their plates this year. Many are proposed by Democrats, and go against the grain of a legislature that has demonstrated its pro-gun tendencies.
Yet high profile incidents of gun violence across the country are fueling what could become a somewhat a two-sided debate here.
"I want to protect myself," said Cindy Wheeler. She's a member of Georgia Carry.She was at the Capitol Thursday, giving away Georgia Carry buttons to lawmakers and visitors.
She's among the pro-gun interests opposing new gun control measures introduced by Democrats.
One would require training for licensed gun carriers.
One would outlaw weapons in all public buildings.
Another would restrict assault weapons and high caliber weapons – requiring "seizure of such by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation."
The bill sponsor called it a "strong bill," and admitted the seizure provision may be problematic. "I'm not wedded to the specific principle of confiscating guns," said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur). "I am open to an honest discussion – if I'm allowed to have an honest discussion – if there's a better way."
Backers of such bills point to mass shootings across the country as reason to rethink Georgia's embrace of firearms. The state substantially loosened gun laws two years ago.
But Georgia Carry members say such shootings make their case "stronger unfortunately. Because there's no one there to stop the shooter," said Bruce Greenfield, a Georgia Carry member.
Backers of Georgia's gun laws are hoping to pass a "campus carry" bill this year, allowing guns on college campuses. That bill was introduced last year but wasn't enacted; even among many gun-rights proponents, the pitch to arm college students lacks broad support.
Meantime, Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) says he plans to introduce a bill allowing college students to carry stun guns on campus.