Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) believes that Georgia's newly enacted "guns everywhere" law, which allows residents with a permit to carry firearms in bars, classrooms and many government buildings, is a "God-given" right that will reduce shootings and protect schoolchildren.
"We know that when law abiding citizens who know how to utilize a firearm have one on their person, it helps prevent crime," Broun said in an interview with Newsmax TV on Tuesday. "This is a law that I think is going to help prevent shootings, that is going to help prevent crimes."
Broun, a staunch gun rights advocate, maintained that more guns in schools "would actually prevent kids from being shot" and that schools and churches that ban firearms on their premises would be making a dire mistake.
"We see as we go forward that schools are going to be safer, that everybody around in any locale is going to be safer because someone who understands how to utilize a firearm will be there to protect other folks, and I think it's going to be a very positive move," Brown said. "These gun-free areas are actually -- they're free-shooting zones for people because they know that there won't be anybody there that can stop them."
Broun, who recently lost a bid for the Republican nomination to succeed Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), also argued that "any law, whether it's federal, state or local, that interferes with a law-abiding citizen's right to own, carry or utilize a firearm in any manner" is unconstitutional.
"The Second Amendment is the one that really protects all of our liberties that we are given by our Lord, and our God-given rights, and are protected under the Constitution," Broun continued.
On Tuesday, the same day Georgia's Safe Carry Protection Act went into effect, an argument between two armed men in a Georgia convenience store resulted in a drawn firearm and a man's arrest.
In a number of states with new open-carry laws, many companies have struggled with confronting the issue of firearms on private business premises.
Amid the debate, Target announced Wednesday a new no-guns policy forbidding customers in localities where guns are allowed from carrying firearms into their stores.
"This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create," Target's interim CEO John Mulligan said in a statement Wednesday.
A recent study by the Violence Policy Center also found that states with weak gun-control laws and higher rates of gun ownership tend to have significantly higher rates of gun deaths than states with stronger policies and fewer gun owners.