Last December, after a long day of meetings, I could think of nothing more important than going home and hugging my kids tightly.
The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy was everywhere that day - TV, newspaper, social media and general conversation. When a parent sends a child to school or when a teacher goes to work, it is assumed both will return home safe and sound at the end of the day.
That day, 26 families in Connecticut tragically lost their son, daughter or spouse.
I spent the next few days afterwards thinking about the motives of this deranged man and how this shooting could have been prevented, but what I never considered was limiting or completely taking away the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Many gun control advocates argue that citizens no longer possess bayonets and there is no longer a need for a militia - and therefore, the Second Amendment is no longer logical. However, as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I firmly believe we need to protect this Constitutional right.
What makes a "gun free zone" truly free of any sort of weapon? A sign is posted on the entrances of schools, restaurants, shopping centers and many other public places, but unless each entrance has a metal detector and the manpower to enforce the rule, it is just that - a sign.
These signs are not going to cause any individual compelled to harm to stop at the door and turn around. People who break the law don't care about state or federal code or school rules.
In what can only be called a knee-jerk reaction to "do something," President Obama released a list of executive actions and proposed Congressional actions in January. While some may be reasonable (expanding mental health programs and developing model emergency response plans for schools, churches and colleges) the majority are overreaching and a blatant violation of other Constitutional rights.
Gun control legislation isn't about guns - it's about control. The right to bear and keep arms is one of the most fundamental rights of our nation, and new restrictive legislation will only impact responsible and law-abiding gun owners.
These proposed laws will have unintended consequences, such as strip searches or frisking to determine weapons possession, or a responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit being unfairly penalized for accidentally being within a restricted area.
Furthermore, with distance restrictions, who has the burden of enforcement? Is it the gun owner or building security?
Gun bills are not new to the Georgia General Assembly, but it is safe to assume that more bills have been filed in 2013 as a result of recent tragedies across the nation.
Both pro-gun and gun control legislation has been introduced in both the Georgia House and Senate, including:
HB 26: The Georgia Constitutional Carry Act would allow anyone to carry a weapon without a license as long as the individual is not prohibited by law.
HB 27: The Restoring Gun Rights During State of Emergency Act of 2013 removes the governor's ability to restrict firearm carry during declared emergencies.
HB 28: Under this bill, places of worship would be removed from the list of unauthorized locations for weapons carry.
HB 29: This bill would allow guns to be carried on public and private college campuses, vocational school campuses and other institutes of postsecondary education.
HB 35: This bill allows local boards of education to designate one or more administrators in each school in the school system to possess and carry firearms, if the appointed administrators have a carry license and attend a weapons safety course.
SB 33: This Senate bill is a complete ban on assault weapons, including firearms that are traditionally not considered "automatic" or "semi-automatic."
SB 34: Anyone who has a past drug or alcohol conviction would be banned from owning a firearm under this bill, although the broad message of the bill is to make it illegal for a "mentally incompetent" person to own a gun.
SB 74: Military personnel between the ages of 18-21 with proof of basic training would be able to apply for a weapons carry license under this bill. I am a co-sponsor of this bill because I believe that if you are adult enough to fight for our country and are trained in firearm safety, you should be able to possess a firearm.
SB 93: I am also a co-sponsor of SB 93, which would allow silencers to be used when hunting wildlife. This bill is a product of the wild hog issue that Georgia farmers have on their property. The silencer must be registered and anyone found in violation of any provision would have hunting privileges suspended for three years.
SB 101: This bill would allow the weapons carry licenses of law-abiding, out-of-state individuals, to be recognized in Georgia.
At this time, it is not known which, if any, of these bills will be heard in committee or placed on the calendar for a vote. We should have the opportunity to protect ourselves and our families without destroying the core principles on which our nation was founded.
This week, I was pleased to welcome several groups at the State Capitol, including Pastor Michael Rogers and members of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Leadership Forsyth, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Association of Realtors.
I was also incredibly honored to have one special individual in the Senate chamber with me one day - my dear mother.
I will be continuing to meet with my constituents throughout District 47 in the forthcoming weeks. Please come on out at 8 a.m. Saturday to the Blairsville Restaurant in Union County. All are welcome.
Please feel free to contact my office at any time to talk about pending legislation or to address other concerns in our district - my door and phone lines are always open.
Sen. Steve Gooch can be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via e-mail at email@example.com.