Georgia has taken a significant step towards repealing concealed gun-carry permit requirements.
The state senate passed a bill that would allow adults who can otherwise legally possess a gun to carry them. Senate Bill 319 passed by a vote of 34-22 on Monday. The bill will need to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives before making its way to the desk of Republican Governor Brian Kemp.
“This is about letting lawful people be able to carry their weapon and protect themselves,” Kemp told The Reload in an exclusive interview earlier this month.
The bill’s movement comes as permitless carry continues to sweep across Red states. Georgia would be the 22nd state to adopt the policy if it does make it into law, five Republican-controlled states adopted the policy in 2021 alone. All of the remaining handful of states where Republicans control all the levers of state government are currently debating the policy in their state legislatures.
The movement also comes as Kemp faces a tough re-election race with former Senator David Perdue (R.) challenging him in the primary and Stacey Abrams likely to be the Democrat nominee. Kemp has long been a proponent of permitless carry. He publicly supported the policy when he first ran back in 2018 but has not been able to shepherd it through the legislature to this point.
Perdue has attacked Kemp for not getting the policy into law during his time in office.
“If Brian Kemp feels so strongly about constitutional carry, why hasn’t he gotten it done?” a Perdue spokesperson told The Reload earlier this month. “Kemp has had three years to get constitutional carry across the finish line, and he hasn’t delivered. At a time when the woke left is threatening to confiscate our guns and take away our rights, Georgia needs a bold leader who will make waves to get things done – not a 20-year career politician like Kemp.”
Kemp says the pandemic has limited the legislature’s ability to pass new laws over the past few years but hit back at Kemp for being a “johnny-come-lately” to the issue.
“Anybody who gets into the governor’s race is now supportive of Constitutional carry,” Kempt said. “I would remind you that I was for it back when I campaigned back in 2017 and 18. I’ve got a strong Second Amendment record.”
He said rioting during the summer of 2020 has also opened up more political support for the permitless carry that will allow him to get the bill passed–something he promised to get done this year.
Abrams also attacked Kemp on permitless carry. She questioned both Kemp’s commitment to the policy and its wisdom.
“Brian Kemp knows that his legislation – which he did not seriously advocate until he faced a tough primary challenge – is opposed by 7 in 10 Georgians and would make it easier for many criminals to carry concealed weapons on our streets,” Seth Bringman, a spokesperson for Abrams, told The Reload earlier this month. “The permit system was just fine to him for the first three years he was in office.”
“Obviously, those individuals shouldn’t be allowed to carry,” Kemp said. “The legislation would prevent that. But when you have people that break the law, they don’t really care about this.”
Republicans said the policy wouldn’t negatively affect crime rates because firearms sales done through gun dealers already require background checks and felons or the dangerously mentally ill can’t legally own guns. Senator Jason Anavitarte (R.), who sponsored SB 319, argued the permitting process is redundant and necessary.
“This bill is about people, not politics,” he told The Center Square. “It’s about the good guys. Today, we power good people, law-abiding people.”
The National Rifle Association, which has supported the push for permitless carry in the state, celebrated the victory.
“This ensures that citizens have the right to self-defense without government red tape or delays,” the gun-rights group said on its website. “Additionally, this legislation maintains the existing concealed handgun license system, so citizens who still wish to obtain a permit may do so.”
The NRA noted the bill would still allow Georgians to obtain carry permits for the purpose of carrying in other states that recognize Georgia’s permit. The group told supporters to reach out to their representatives in the House to support the bill and get it to Kemp’s desk.
The governor has been optimistic the bill will pass into law.
“I’m very excited about Constitutional carry, or permitless carry if you will, in our state,” Kemp previously told The Reload. “It’s something a lot of people have supported for a long time, including myself. But I think in this environment now has it where we can get the votes in the General Assembly, we can get this passed.”