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Greg Bluestein

A post-Orlando push to ban assault rifles in Georgia

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An AJC file photo from a gun rights protest.

An AJC file photo from a gun rights protest.

An influential Georgia Democrat wants a new debate on legislation that would ban the type of assault rifle used to carry out the Orlando massacre.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said she plans to revive her effort to restrict assault weapons, large-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets in Georgia after the deadliest mass shooting in American history. A similar proposal she introduced last year was blocked by powerful Republicans who said it weakened Second Amendment rights.

“It is time for a discussion – at a minimum, at least a discussion,” said Oliver, who said she’s looking for a Republican co-sponsor. “I always want to remind Georgians that we were spared a massacre with an assault weapon at McNair Academy by Antoinette Tuff. We were lucky, lives were saved here. Orlando citizens tragically were not so fortunate.”

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur. Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur. Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com

Authorities say Omar Mateen used an AR-15 to spray a helpless crowd at a gay nightclub in Orlando with dozens of rounds of bullets, killing 50 people and wounding another 53. Mateen, who pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call, died in a gun battle with police.

Gun rights advocates hope to halt the push again next year. Jerry Henry of GeorgiaCarry.org said the best way to stop mass shootings is to expand the places where gun permitholders can carry their weapons.

“It was illegal for the murderer to carry his firearm into the bar in Florida. My guess is that several more laws were broken by this murderer as well,” said Henry. “This begs the question: What did these laws do to protect these innocent people? Answer: nothing.”

Read more: Orlando shooting renews hot-button political debates in Georgia