Bookman: Georgia GOP lawmakers sacrifice gun carry law at altar of the Cult of the 2nd Amendment

April 7, 2022 1:00 am

Cataula Republican Sen. Randy Robertson argues we shouldn’t blame inanimate objects for gun crimes, but columnist Jay Bookman says the continued push by animated GOP lawmakers to abolish restrictions doesn’t make Georgians safer. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Correction: An earlier version of this column about the 2022 state Legislature passing Senate Bill  319 incorrectly characterized some aspects of the measure’s changes to Georgia gun restrictions. The law would not change an unlicensed gun owner’s ability to legally carry loaded weapons in their vehicles. The law would not allow possession of hunting rifles in areas that are closed to hunting.

What we need, apparently, are more guns. More guns, bigger guns, in more hands, cars, homes, purses, pockets and plenty of other places.

More more more. Always more; certainly never less.

After all, we’ve been told for decades that more guns make us safer, that an armed society is a polite society. Over those decades, we’ve pursued that theory with an impressive fervor, loosening gun laws, making guns more easily available and visible. In the United States alone, some 19 million firearms were sold in 2022, which means that in just one year, private citizens in this country bought more guns than most militaries possess in all their armories.

So … do you feel safer yet? Is our increasingly armed society becoming an increasingly polite society?


Then the only logical conclusion to be drawn is that still more guns are needed.

The Georgia General Assembly is trying its damnedest to make that happen. It’s an election year, and every election year another gun-safety law must be dragged out into the public square and executed as a ritual sacrifice to the Cult of The Second Amendment. A few years ago, the ban on weapons on college campuses was abolished. This year, it was Georgia’s long-standing gun-carry laws, which require a background check and approval from a probate judge before a permit to carry is issued.

Under SB 319, which Gov. Brian Kemp will soon sign into law and proclaim as one of his proudest achievements, such permits will no longer be necessary. Anyone can carry a weapon almost anywhere.

The gun lobby calls this concept “constitutional carry,” but there’s nothing “constitutional” about it. It’s a marketing slogan, not a legal description. If carry permits were unconstitutional, you couldn’t pass a state law to implement them, and you wouldn’t need a state law to abolish them. It’s also important to point out that until recently, gun cultists would brag about how effective the permit system had been in keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. They endorsed and defended the system, until they began to run out of gun laws to abolish as proof of their fanaticism. Now it too is gone.

It’s also interesting to dig into the details of SB 319, at the hypocrisies and distortions and plain insanities it creates.

Under SB 319, for example, it will still be illegal to possess fireworks, bows and arrows, air rifles or slingshots in Georgia parks and historic sites, because those things could hurt folks. However, you can walk around with an assault rifle and no one can say or do a damn thing.

Technically, SB 319 would still prohibit felons from carrying weapons, either openly or concealed. But that ban is meaningless, because under SB 319 police officers will be forbidden to check whether someone carrying a weapon has the legal right to do so. That’s right – they made the law unenforceable.

Do you feel safer now, Georgia?

During debate over the bill, pro-gun cultists took offense at the notion that the rise in gun-related murders and assaults has any link to the easy availability of guns. Remember, guns reduce violence; guns make you safer.

“Let’s stop blaming an inanimate object,” as state Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Columbus), put it.  “I’ll tell you why violent crime is up. It’s because mothers, fathers, churches, educational institutions and others have abandoned their responsibility to raise responsible adults.”

It is of course true that a gun is an inanimate object, but that’s not how the gun cultists treat it. They have turned that inanimate piece of steel into a fetish object, believing the gun to be the source of their liberty, their pride, their political power, their manhood. And the only way for the rest of us to restore some sanity and balance to the situation is at the ballot box.

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Jay Bookman
Jay Bookman

Jay Bookman covered Georgia and national politics for nearly 30 years for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, earning numerous national, regional and state journalism awards. He has been awarded the National Headliner Award and the Walker Stone Award for outstanding editorial writing, and is the only two-time winner of the Pulliam Fellowship granted by the Society of Professional Journalists. He is also the author of "Caught in the Current," published by St. Martin's Press.