Georgia governor signs bill allowing concealed carry of handguns without a license
“SB 319 ensures that law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters, and your family too, can protect themselves without having to get permission from your state government,” Kemp said outside Gable Sporting Goods in Douglasville, where he said he once bought a handgun for one of his daughters. “The United States Constitution gives us that right, not the government.”
Republicans argue that the requirement for a carry license, which costs about $75, violates Second Amendment gun rights. They also cite permit delays in some Georgia counties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kemp’s advocacy for portering without a license had died down after he took office. He has supported some extensions of gun rights, but said little about constitutional portability, failing to mention the issue in his 2019, 2020, or 2021 State of the State addresses. State Republican David Ralston even shelved an even more modest gun bill in 2021 after shootings killed eight people at two Atlanta-area spas.
But in an example of how Perdue’s Donald Trump-endorsed challenge forced Kemp to the right, he revived calls for constitutional carry in January, saying people should carry guns to protect themselves from crime.
Perdue told reporters in Atlanta on Tuesday that he was “glad” Kemp signed the bill, but said the governor was not doing enough to fight crime. Perdue cited lawmakers’ failure to allow the Buckhead neighborhood to vote on secession from Atlanta, said Kemp had let the state’s police force “deteriorate” and said Kemp should do more to arrest people who entered the country illegally.
“It’s a shame it took four years to do it, and it’s a shame it took me to get into the race for them to have the energy to do it,” Perdue told about gun law.
Kemp denies ever backing down from the issue, saying he needs to keep persuading lawmakers. “The votes haven’t been there, but a lot of things have changed,” he told reporters after signing the law.
Kemp’s support indicates a sharp split between the Republican and Democratic parties in Georgia this year on guns and other issues. There is little divisiveness within the Republican Party over expanding gun rights, while Democrats are eager to push for “common sense” gun regulations.
At an event before Kemp signed the law, several Democratic lawmakers called the measure a “criminal carry,” saying it would remove one of Georgia’s few deterrents blocking people who aren’t supposed to. carry a gun.
Under Georgia law, people who have been convicted of a felony, face felony charges or have been treated for certain mental health conditions within the past five years cannot carry a weapon. The new law does not change that. But it does remove the background check for a license to carry a loaded or concealed handgun in public. Democrats note that more than 5,000 people applied for permits last year and were blocked, and say police and the public will now face danger from some of those people carrying guns.
“Yes, I believe in the Second Amendment,” said Sen. Donzella James, a Democrat from Atlanta. “But why are we extending access to weapons to everyone?”
Democrats point to polls showing the measure is unpopular with the majority of the public, saying Kemp has become a prisoner to his party’s right wing.
“It’s a sad day when Republican leaders in Georgia care more about their political standing than about public safety,” said Rep. Roger Bruce, an Atlanta Democrat.
The state would still issue concealed carry permits to allow Georgians to take advantage of agreements allowing the carrying of weapons between states. Kemp also on Tuesday signed a bill strengthening reciprocity in Georgia for gun owners from other states.
Kemp signed the law a day after Democratic President Joe Biden announced new regulations on ghost guns, privately made firearms without serial numbers. But Biden has made no progress getting Congress to pass gun regulations, and the U.S. Supreme Court may be on the verge of striking down New York’s more restrictive licensing regime.
There are no studies that show ride-hailing laws reduce violent crime, according to a 2020 Rand Institute analysis, while it is uncertain whether the laws increase violence.
Even some proponents of gun control say Georgia’s laws were already so permissive that it’s unclear what will change without a permit. Allison Anderman is senior counsel at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, named after former U.S. Representative from Arizona Gabby Giffords, a Democrat who was shot outside a supermarket and suffered a severe brain injury in 2011.
“I don’t know if we can really draw any conclusions,” Anderman said.
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