Georgia governor aims to relax rules on carrying handguns
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will push for new state law that would ease handgun carrying requirements in public as it aims to alleviate a main challenge from fellow Republican David Perdue in the race to the governor of this year.
Kemp and his wife are expected to join state lawmakers and gun rights advocates at a gun store outside Atlanta on Wednesday to announce support for legislation that would remove the need for a license for carrying a handgun in public – either openly or concealed on his body – according to draft remarks obtained by the Associated Press. Smyrna’s store, Adventure Outdoors, promotes itself as the “largest gun store in the world.”
“Building a safer, stronger Georgia starts with hardworking Georgians who have the ability to protect themselves and their families,” Kemp’s draft remarks read. “In the face of the rise in violent crime across the country, law-abiding citizens should have their constitutional rights protected. ”
More than 20 other states allow weapons concealed in public without a permit – or what supporters call “constitutional porterage,” according to Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Kemp highlighted his support for the 2nd Amendment during his first gubernatorial campaign, appearing in several ads with shotguns and telling voters he was a hunter and a marksman. In an advertisement, he was sitting in a room full of guns and brandishing a shotgun at an actor playing the suitor of one of his daughters.
He also approved the “constitutional portage”.
With the backing of former President Donald Trump, Perdue announced in December that he was entering the race for governor. The former US senator who lost his seat to Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff in January 2021 identified “constitutional porterage” as a major problem and criticized Kemp for not delivering it.
Perdue and another Kemp-defying Republican, Vernon Jones, slammed the governor ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.
“I’m glad Brian Kemp is responding to my call for constitutional postponement in Georgia,” Perdue tweeted Monday night. “But real leaders lead from the start – and it’s time for Georgia to have a governor who demonstrates principled leadership when it matters most. “
Kemp’s draft remarks appear to be applauding, saying that the view that people have the right to carry a gun without state approval “has recently become popular with others as we enter the world. campaign season ”.
Georgia currently requires people to be licensed to carry a loaded handgun outside their own home, business, or car, although people can carry rifles and shotguns in many places without a license and carry unloaded weapons in the cases.
To obtain a gun license, residents of the state must submit an application and fee and undergo fingerprints and a background check. Convicted felons and people who have been hospitalized for mental health problems or who have received drug or alcohol treatment in the years preceding the application are not eligible.
Several bills currently pending at the State Capitol would remove the licensing requirement. And Georgia House President David Ralston has indicated he’s open to some form of unlicensed porterage legislation. Ralston put aside a gun bill in the closing hours of last year’s regular session, saying it was too soon after eight people were shot dead at massage companies in the Atlanta metro area.
Republican State Senator Jason Anavitarte of Dallas, a co-sponsor of one of the “constitutional portage” bills, said people wanted the policy passed.
“It is our inherent Second Amendment right to wear without a license,” he said.
A key question, if the licenses are abolished, is what, if anything, the state would do to try to prevent convicted felons and people with mental illness from carrying handguns outside.
Courtney Spriggs, head of the Georgian section of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, accused Kemp of playing “political games that could cost Georgians their lives.” Spriggs worked as a law enforcement officer and her husband is the sheriff’s deputy.
“It’s incredibly dangerous for law enforcement not to know if the person carrying a gun has been checked,” she said. “It’s incredibly scary and frankly anti-law enforcement.”