Courtesy of Jim Cooley

Jim Cooley was taking his daughter to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last week. He was just like any dad dropping his daughter off, only he did it with a semi-automatic rifle slung over his chest. That led to what he says was police harassment. 

Cooley said he didn’t go to the airport looking for trouble.

“That was my firearm of choice that day. For no specific reason other than I carry a firearm for safety,” he said.

Jenell Parker looks on as William Edmonds (front) and Edward Park(back) interact with a scenario
Alison Guillory / WABE

Police officers in Marietta are using 3D glasses and guns that shoot laser beams to learn how to make better, split-second decisions around the use of deadly force.

In light of recent high-profile deaths – Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson – the Marietta Police Department is one of 30 agencies in Georgia investing in use-of-force simulators.

In one simulation, Marietta Police Detective Mike Freer and Michael Malcolm enter a dark warehouse.

Brad Ward's shooting range in Williamson, GA.
Courtesy of Michael Ranew / Full Blown Firearms

After weeks of debate, Spalding County commissioners approved a business license for its first backyard shooting range. 

Brad Ward has had a shooting range in his backyard for more than 14 years in Williamson, just south of Atlanta.

“Most everybody that has property out here has some type of a makeshift shooting range," Ward says. "Gunfire out in the country is not a bad thing, it is consistent.” 

But his is not your average shooting range.

The TSA Blog

The numbers are out for the Transportation Security Administration’s annual review of guns found at the nation’s carry-on checkpoints. Atlanta TSA workers screened more than 19.9 million passengers in 2014.

So how did we do?

Last year, the Hartsfield-Jackson TSA found 109 firearms on people trying to board planes. That makes us number two in the nation. It’s the first year in many that Atlanta hasn’t topped the list.

Celebratory gunfire
Associated Press

Weapons should not be used to celebrate the start of a new year.  

That's the messages authorities across the state are stressing this week.

“Firing a piece of lead into the air, when it comes down, it’s going to come down with the same velocity that it went up.  And if someone is under it, you could have serious injury or you could have death,” says Julian Miller, a spokesman for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.

In 2010, a stray bullet killed four-year-old Marquel Peters in Decatur.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The so-called “Guns Everywhere” bill went into effect this week.

It allows Georgians with a concealed carry permit to bring firearms into churches, libraries, restaurants and government buildings.

Early on, the law is already proving to be an added expense for Atlanta taxpayers.

City of Atlanta spokesman Carlos Campos confirms Mayor Kasim Reed is spending taxpayer money for private security at 24 city recreation centers.

Georgia's New Gun Law Is In Effect

Jul 1, 2014
Infographic on Georgia's new gun law
Robert Aaron/WABE

Georgia's revised gun law, allowing guns to be carried in many places where they were previously prohibited, went into effect today.  It allows guns to be carried in airports, government buildings, bars, restaurants and even churches -- if the particular church agrees to "opt in" and allow guns.

Below is an infographic showing some of the changes and provisions in the new law. For more detailed discussions, we've assembled a compilation our earlier articles.

TSA agents at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport confiscated this pistol Wednesday morning.  In 2012, Atlanta led the nation in the number of seized weapons.
Courtesy: TSA

Starting tomorrow, the law opponents have referred to as the “guns everywhere” bill goes into effect. Among other things, the law allows permitted gun holders to carry firearms in bars, some churches and government buildings without security.

1960s Freedom Movement in South Revisited

Jun 11, 2014
Charles E. Cobb Jr.
John Abromowski / Brown University

It's been 50 years since "Freedom Summer" and the drive to register black voters across Mississippi.  The events and forces that shaped that movement are recounted in a new book by former civil rights organizer and veteran journalist Charles E. Cobb Jr., entitled, "This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed--How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible" (Basic Books, 2014).  Recently, the author spoke with WABE's Steve Goss... 

A Georgia gun rights group says those with conceal carry permits can soon legally take their weapons into school safety zones as a result of a bill recently signed by Governor Nathan Deal. But last week, Attorney General Sam Olens and Governor Deal said another gun bill overrides provisions in that law that would allow for campus carry.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Some local cities and counties are exploring whether to add metal detectors or police officers to government buildings without security. The effort comes after Governor Nathan Deal recently signed a bill allowing those with concealed weapons permits to carry guns into unsecured government buildings.

Bishop Rob Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Georgia’s new gun law, HB 60, allows permit holders to carry concealed weapons into a church—but only if the church specifically allows it.  Some local religious leaders who oppose the law, however, are taking no chances.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Today, Governor Nathan Deal signed a sweeping bill to expand gun rights in Georgia. Opponents have dubbed it the “guns everywhere bill” and protested the signing during a press conference held at a church near the Georgia Capitol.

Deal Signs Controversial Gun Bill

Apr 23, 2014
In Ellijay, Gov. Deal, signed the new gun legislation into Georgia law on April 23, 2014.
Jonathan Shapiro/WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal Wednesday signed into law a sweeping gun bill attracting national attention.

House Speaker David Ralston introduced Deal at the bill signing ceremony in Ellijay. He did so before a friendly crowd of at least 200, several of whom were openly carrying.

“This is the apple capitol of Georgia and, yes, it’s a community where we cling to religion and guns,” said Ralston.

Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston reportedly opposes a plan to fund gun violence research, a reversal of the Savannah congressman’s stance after the shootings at Sandy Hook.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, speaks during a press conference to announce it planned to file a lawsuit challenging Georgia's "stand your ground" law.
Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Will a lawsuit filed by the Rainbow Push Coalition and others challenging Georgia’s so called “Stand Your Ground” law be dismissed over a technicality?

Last month, a group hoping to intervene in the case asked a federal judge to dismiss it because it claimed Georgia’s Attorney General and Governor Nathan Deal were never served with the lawsuit. But attorneys filing the lawsuit responded this week and said they attempted to serve both state officials.

A Summary Of What's In Georgia's New Gun Law

Mar 27, 2014
A summary of the provisions of Georgia's new gun law, which Gov. Deal plans to sign this morning.
Robert Aaron, WABE

Web Exclusive.

We have put together a summary of the key provisions of the new gun law that was passed in the waning hours of this year's General Assembly and which is now awaiting Gov. Deal's signature. The summary appears below as an image.

This is not an exhaustive summary of the bill's contents, and we are not lawyers. For more information and for the exact wording, please check the full text of the bill (HB 60) as passed by the Legislature (PDF).

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The Georgia Municipal Association says a gun bill passed by state lawmakers could be costly for a number of Georgia cities. The Association is also worried the bill could leave cities open to lawsuits. The bill is also drawing some concern from law enforcement officials.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Unlike last year, House and Senate lawmakers this year reached a deal on legislation to expand gun rights in places like bars, churches, and some government buildings.  The bill now goes to Governor Deal’s desk.

The Georgia House agreed with the Senate Version of the bill during the last hour of legislative session. That led to this announcement by Senator Bill Heath:

“Mr. President I believe that the House has finally come along in representing Georgia’s gun owners and protecting themselves.”

Michell Eloy

Gun control advocates Wednesday rallied against legislative efforts to expand areas where people can carry firearms one day after the Georgia House of Representatives attempted to force the hand of the Senate on controversial gun legislation.  

Ga. House Tries To Force Vote On Gun Bill

Mar 11, 2014

The state House is trying to force the hand of their Senate colleagues on sweeping gun legislation.

In a surprise move Tuesday, the House removed a provision that would have reduced the penalty for gun permit holders if caught carrying on a college campus. Then, it attached that bill to a separate piece of legislation and sent it to the Senate for an immediate floor vote.

State Rep. Dustin Hightower, R-Carrollton.
Ga. House of Reps.

The Georgia House approved a controversial bill aimed at easing gun restrictions in a wide range of places, including bars, churches, college campuses, and Hartsfield Airport.

On the House floor, Rep. Dustin Hightower, R-Carrollton, said the bill is about basic constitutional rights. 

“We get asked over and over why do we constantly talk about gun rights and the Second Amendment and my answer is simple - because there are others who are constantly trying to take our rights away,” said Hightower.

A bill seeking to loosen gun carry rules in Georgia's bars, churches, and college campuses cleared a House committee Thursday.

After two days of packed hearings and emotional testimony, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee voted in favor of House Bill 875. It would expand gun carry areas to bars, churches, and some government buildings. 

Rose Scott / WABE News

State Rep. Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton) has introduced a bill that calls for allowing Georgia firefighters to carry guns on the job.

This comes less than a year after an emergency incident where a Gwinnett County man called the fire department claiming to have a heart attack.

Shortly after five firefighters entered the house, the caller held them hostage at gunpoint.

New Gun Bill Won't Include Campus Carry

Jan 24, 2014
Ga. House of Reps.

State House Republicans are expected to introduce new gun legislation Monday, just days after the legislature's attorneys dealt a major blow to backers of expanding gun carry areas to state colleges and universities.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, insists the new bill will expand gun rights - it just won’t include campus carry.  

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

A controversial bill that would expand the list of areas where people with permits can carry guns has hit a major snag in the state General Assembly after the legislature’s lawyers said a key proposal could be unconstitutional.

The problem lies in the “opt in” measure, which would allow college presidents to decide whether permit holders could carry weapons on campus.

Colt Defense LLC

The Gainesville School Board approved a plan Monday that will allow school resource officers at three of its schools to access long-range rifles.

Gun buyback programs have been used by cities all over the country, such as this gun buyback program in Oakland, California, in 2012.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and faith leaders are joining the NAACP in a gun buyback initiative.

“We decided to take action. More than just pray for it and go to sleep," said Rev. R.L. White, Jr., president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP. 

At a Monday press conference at Atlanta City Hall, Brown condemned what he called America’s culture of violence and called for fewer guns on the streets.

“When we first initiated this buyback effort, it was out of necessity, not politics,” said Brown.


A Georgia group that advocates for the rights of gun owners wants to put a stop to a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s "Stand Your Ground" law. The lawsuit was just filed by the Georgia Push Coalition and two other plaintiffs.

GeorgiaCarry.Org filed a motion on Tuesday asking a federal judge to allow the organization to participate in the lawsuit. The gun rights group also filed another motion asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed Jerry Henry is executive director of GeorgiaCarry.Org.

A 15-year-old female student at the New Schools at Carver was arrested for having a handgun in her purse, which she said she was holding for another student.
Google Street Views

Officials with the Atlanta Public Schools and the Atlanta Police Department say a 15-year old female student was arrested on Tuesday at the New Schools at Carver High located in south Atlanta.

The student was in possession of a gun. And it was a loaded gun, says APD major Keith Meadows.

“One of our school resources officers actually received an anonymous tip from a student at the school that another female was actually carrying a handgun in her purse."

Major Meadows is in charge of APS’ school detectives unit.