Georgia legislators debate over gun control versus expanding gun rights came to a head Friday, April 1, when Republican lawmakers passed the constitutional carry act, removing the requirement to get a permit to carry a handgun in public. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp plans to sign a bill into law to end the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in public
Republican lawmakers from both chambers have approved the Constitutional Carry Act, with the Senate giving it final passage Friday by a vote of 34-22. After the vote, Kemp tweeted he looked forward to signing the legislation that he pledged his support for during his gubernatorial campaign in 2018.
Supporters of the measure say Senate Bill 319 reinforces the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and to protect family and property.
Critics charge that it removes another level of background checks that annually catches thousands of people who should not own firearms.
The National Rifle Association applauded lawmakers for passing what it hails as a landmark law as Georgia becomes the 25th state to allow permit-less carry. Georgians would no longer be required to go through the local probate court for a license to carry.
“Today, every state, and the District of Columbia, provides for the carrying of a firearm for self-defense outside the home in some form, and half the nation recognizes the Second Amendment protects law-abiding citizens’ right to self-defense as an inherent and inalienable right,” Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the NRA, said in a statement.
“NRA members have led this extraordinary brick-by-brick effort in building and expanding America’s self-defense laws and we are not done!” he added.
Atlanta Democratic Sen. Elena Parent criticized her Republican colleagues for supporting a bill that they argued would protect people from becoming crime victims, but instead simply made it easier for guns to get into the hands of the wrong people.
Parent cited Atlanta Police Department statistics showing that more than 2,000 guns were stolen from cars in 2021 and that Georgia’s lax gun laws led to people transporting guns to states with stricter gun control.
“The proliferation of weapons without safeguards is what makes our streets dangerous and causes so much bloodshed,” she said. “Through our state’s laws, we have eliminated the ability for law enforcement to try to get the gun problem and therefore the crime problem under control.’’
Federal law requires licensed gun dealers to perform a background check on prospective purchasers in order to determine if they can legally purchase a firearm. Unlicensed dealers, however, such as those selling guns online or privately, are not required to perform the same background checks.
Republican Sen. Randy Robertson of Cataula said it’s time to stop blaming inanimate objects for society’s ills, such as violent crime.
“I will tell you once again why violent crime is up. It’s because mothers, fathers, churches, educational institutions and others have abandoned their responsibility to raise responsible adults,” Robertson said.
Among the other firearms bills that may be passed before the legislative session ends on Monday is one that removes the gun ban from places of worship, allowing churches and other religious institutions to set their own policies. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 259 would prohibit courts and law enforcement agencies from sharing gun permit databases with outside organizations.
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