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Georgia senator files legislation to require hours of safety training for all gun owners

Senate Bill 344 proposes a training course for all Georgians in possession of firearms.

ATLANTA — A Georgia senator has set her sights on gun owners after filing new legislation. If passed, those looking to possess a firearm within the Peach State would have to pass certification or face possible prison time.

Bill 344, filed by Sen. Sally Harrell (D - Atlanta), will ask state lawmakers to consider requiring several hours of firearm safety training for potential gun owners across Georgia. If passed, the bill will compel the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to create a four to six-hour-long firearm training course. The bill also dictates a series of requirements for the course.

The course would need to include instruction on state and federal gun laws, firearm use and safety, nonviolent dispute resolution, proper firearm storage, methods for safe carrying in public, nonviolent dispute resolution and one to two hours of shooting instruction at a gun range. Prospective gun owners that pass the course would then be granted a certification that could be demanded upon request by police officers. A violation of the potential legislature would elicit a misdemeanor offense subject to up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

“Some members of the General Assembly want to put more guns on our streets by removing permit requirements. I’m more interested in keeping citizens safe from gun violence and accidents,” Sen. Sally Harrell said in a press release. “We would never allow anyone with a car to drive it in public without proper instruction. If we’re going to have more guns everywhere, gun owners should be trained on how to use and store them safely.” 

The safety course is not the only change on the agenda for Bill 344. 

The bill is also looking to introduce new storage requirements for firearms. Gun owners would be required to keep their firearms within a storage box that is locked, a locking mechanism on the gun itself or own a firearm that can only be activated by the owner. Violation of this requirement would also elicit a misdemeanor charge.

RELATED: DeKalb County wants to fine people who don't lock up their guns

The 40th Senate District representative's new bill has yet to grace a House or Senate committee. When it does find itself in front of lawmakers, the bill will likely be met with resistance by the Georgia General Assembly.

A series of bills seeking to increase firearm regulation, including a bill requiring training for carry permit requestors, have been logjammed by the Georgia statehouse since 2019. Meanwhile, the requirement for a permit to carry concealed weapons has been questioned at the Capitol several times over the past years.

House Bill 2, legislation looking to join 20 other states in dumping permits in favor of "constitutional carry" law, has recently seen new life in the Georgia state House. In a statement largely towing party lines, Gov. Brian Kemp voiced his support for the bill.

Meanwhile, gubernatorial hopeful former Sen. David Perdue, who will be looking to stare down Gov. Kemp in the GOP primary, voiced a commitment to gun rights that largely aided the former Republican incumbent in taking his U.S. Senate seat in Nov. 2014.