Assault weapons file photo
State Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)
Jerry Henry of GeorgiaCarry.Org
GSU Students for Concealed Carry on Campus information table
Governor Nathan Deal (R-Georgia)
ATLANTA - Given Georgia's pro gun reputation, even we were a little surprised at the results of 11Alive's Survey USA opinion poll about several gun control bills.
Some gun control advocates were encouraged.
"I'm gratified, but I'm not really surprised," said State Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) on Tuesday.
RELATED | EXCLUSIVE POLL: Gun control in Georgia
As one of the leaders of the legislative Democratic minority, Fort is fighting an uphill battle for tougher gun laws in Georgia.
He was pleased that our poll showed 56% of the Georgians we surveyed favor President Obama's proposal to restore a ban on new assault weapons, which may go to Congress this week.
The same number of Georgians in our exclusive survey also favor limiting ammunition sales.
As for bills in the Georgia legislature that would make it easier to carry guns, 80% of our respondents oppose doing away with the state's firearms license.
A bill to allow guns in churches drew 64% "no's" and 65% oppose allowing guns on college campuses.
"We need to adopt reasonable measures to protect children and families and students, but bringing more guns into classrooms and more guns into pews is not the answer and I think Georgians understand that," said Senator Fort.
Jerry Henry, Executive Director of GeorgiaCarry.org, claims the assault weapon issue is complicated and hard to understand.
"I'm not surprised that people answered that (56% in favor of a ban). That's what they've been doing throughout the country basically, but it's my opinion it's because they don't understand what they're trying to ban," Henry added.
He also pointed out the Georgia guns in church bill would only allow them in churches that want them and only by owners with a firearms license.
Some smaller churches, that can't afford hired security guards, have asked state lawmakers to allow licensed members to carry guns for protection in the wake of several church shootings.
Henry also points out the college campus carry bill would only apply to students over 21 who also have a firearms license.
"There're 21-year-old college students in school right now that can walk off campus and carry a gun down the street and everything's okay, but if he steps across the imaginary line, he goes to jail and that's not right," Henry said.
Groups like his have campaigned the past few years to broaden Georgia's gun carrying laws so that property owners can decide who should be able to bring a gun into their business or property.
But stiff opposition from the state's university system and several religious organizations has defeated attempts to expand gun carry rights onto college campuses and into churches or bars.
Asked about our survey, Governor Nathan Deal said the assault weapons ban is a federal issue and people should contact their U.S. Representatives or U.S. Senators about that.
As for several gun bills now pending in the state legislature, the Governor said he has yet to study them and form any opinions.
A few weeks ago, he told 11Alive News he thought a bill to arm licensed, volunteer public school administrators had "some merit" and might receive a favorable response from the GOP controlled General Assembly.
Few people on both sides of the debate oppose expanded backgrouns checks, including private gun sales.
The Georgians we surveyed favored them three to one.