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Legislators get local thumbs up

DULUTH -- Gwinnett legislators got a lot of praise Wednesday, after finally reaching conclusions on trauma care and transportation funding, along with water and education bills during a lengthy session.

But one legislative move has officials worried.

"We are concerned about our parks program ... irate parents at ball games," Duluth City Clerk Teresa Lynn said of a bill not yet signed into law that would allow people to carry guns in many public places.

Many of the officials on hand during a legislative summit Wednesday said the bill cleared up confusion as to where people with concealed carry permits could carry their firearms.

But Rep. Tom Rice said regulations on the permits means the law applies to people who have gone through vigorous background checks and training.

"This is a tough issue, and everyone has to look at this through eyes of their own persuasion," Rice said, adding that he thought the law may have benefits in avoiding massacres such as the Virginia Tech shooting.

Rep. Lee Thompson, the only Democrat in the crowd, said amendments were added to keep restrictions on carrying the guns at schools and on college campuses, but he said he was disappointed that the law allows people to consume alcohol and carry the guns into bars and non-secure areas of airports.

"I thought those were public safety issues," he said. "I don't think that's a good idea."

Chamber officials thanked the group for the passage of a transportation funding bill, which will place a penny sales tax measure on November 2012 ballots, and other moves they said were good for job creation.

"There were a lot of obstacles and budget issues," Chamber President Jim Maran said. "We're very, very proud ... of what you were able to accomplish this year."