State lawmakers now have added motivation to make Georgia the next permitless gun-carry state.
That’s because of sitting Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s remarks at a Smyrna gun shop on Wednesday. He spoke out in favor of legislation that would eliminate the permitting requirement for Georgia residents to carry a firearm.
“Building a safer, stronger Georgia starts with hardworking Georgians having the ability to protect themselves and their families,” Kemp told a group of supporters, according to the Associated Press. “In the face of rising violent crime across the country, law-abiding citizens should have their constitutional rights protected.”
Kemp’s remarks come as the movement for permitless carry continues to make headway in Republican-led states across the country. Lawmakers in Indiana, Alabama, Florida, and Nebraska all have similar bills prepared for this year’s legislative sessions as they look to join the 21 other states that currently allow the practice. Florida Governor Ron Desantis (R.), who many view as a front runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said he would sign a permitless carry bill just last month.
The remarks also come as Kemp looks to fend off a gubernatorial primary challenge from former Senator David Perdue (R.). Perdue, who lost his Senate seat in a runoff election in January of 2021, has also voiced support for permitless carry in the past. He criticized the sitting Governor ahead of his Wednesday remarks for not pushing for the issue earlier.
“I’m glad Brian Kemp is answering my call for constitutional carry in Georgia,” Perdue tweeted. “But real leaders lead from the start – and it’s time Georgia had a Governor who shows principled leadership when it matters most. That’s exactly what I’ll deliver on day one.”
Prominent gun-control organizations were also quick to criticize the Governor’s announcement.
“Permitless carry would put law enforcement officers like my husband in even more danger, but apparently, Governor Kemp and David Perdue would rather risk Georgian lives on political games than support law enforcement,” Courtney Spriggs, a leader in the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement.
She called the policy supported by the Governor, and the law in 21 states, ‘radical’ and said her group would be pushing for new gun-control laws in Georgia during the upcoming session.
“While these politicians are embracing radical policies like permitless carry in a pathetic and dangerous effort to curry favor among gun extremists, we’ll be fighting for laws that would actually prevent gun violence in our communities and make Georgia safer – starting with repealing ‘Stand Your Ground,” she said.
The state of Georgia is currently a “shall-issue” permitting state. That means residents must submit an application and fee, undergo fingerprinting, and a background check in order to receive a permit.
Proponents of permitless gun-carry often argue that such requirements unnecessarily burden the constitutional right to carry a firearm. They often refer to permitless carry as “constitutional carry.”
Representatives with the National Rifle Association, who joined the Governor at his announcement, echoed these sentiments as they celebrated the push in Georgia.
“We shouldn’t have to claw back a civil right, a God-given right to defend ourselves,” Lt. Col. Willes K. Lee, NRA First Vice President, said in a statement. “We shouldn’t have to argue the restrictions placed on government of four simple words ‘shall not be infringed.’ However, people who hate freedom persist, so 21 states have made America safer by passing constitutional carry. We’re pleased to stand here with Gov. Kemp today as he announces he will work to bring this protection to Georgia.”
Governor Kemp also took to Twitter to double down on his announcement and pledged to make sure permitless carry was introduced in the state legislature.
“Now, more than ever, law-abiding Georgians want a strong commitment to the Second Amendment and the right to protect themselves,” Kemp tweeted. “Today I announced our push to get Constitutional Carry on the books in Georgia this legislative session. Together, we’ll GET THE JOB DONE!”
Republicans currently control both houses of the Georgia legislature. The legislative session begins on January 10th.