Bill proposes new safety training requirement for Georgia firearm owners

A surge in gun violence across Georgia has one state senator pushing for a new regulation for firearm owners.

State Sen. Sally Harrell, a Democrat who represents Atlanta, filed a bill to require safety training for anyone who owns a firearm in Georgia.

SB 344 directs the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to develop a four to six-hour firearm training course that would include instruction in firearm storage, nonviolent dispute resolution, restraint holsters and more.

Firearm owners would also be required to have one to two hours of shooting proficiency instruction at a local firearm range.

After completing the course, gun owners would get a certificate that will be presented to law enforcement if requested. 

Anyone who violated the proposed law could serve up to 12 months in prison, pay a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

"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" Harrell said in a statement. "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."

If passed, the bill also sets out new storage regulations that require gun owners to keep their firearms in a locked storage box that is "reasonably secure." Violation of this requirement would also be a misdemeanor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia had the fourth-most firearm deaths in 2019 with nearly 1,700 deaths connected to firearms that year.