Democrat Stacey Abrams is not happy with the direction Georgia’s gun laws are moving.
On Monday, she attacked the new law removing permitting requirements for qualifying adults to carry concealed guns. Abrams described the new law as a “loophole” that will help criminals. She said Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who signed the policy into law last month, doesn’t care.
“If you support background checks to filter lawful gun owners from those who shouldn’t get lethal weapons, then you oppose Brian Kemp’s criminal carry law,” Abrams tweeted. “Law enforcement understands #CriminalCarry is a dangerous new loophole.”
Permitless carry is set to take center stage in this year’s gubernatorial race, which is shaping up to be a rematch between Kemp and Abrams. How voters respond to the passage of permitless carry, something Kemp promised to get done during their first matchup, could determine whether the newly-competitive southern state flips to Democratic control. The race could provide a direct barometer on how the policy, which has polled poorly in Georgia, actually motivates voters on each side of the issue.
The race also serves as a test of former-president Donald Trump’s sway over key 2022 elections. Trump has not only endorsed Kemp’s primary challenger, former-senator David Perdue, but has even spent money running attack ads against him for not attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Kemp has weathered Trump’s attacks and opened up a sizeable lead over Perdue while maintaining a slight advantage over Abrams. If Kemp pulls off re-election, it will be a black eye for Trump as he works to keep his influence over the Republican party.
Abrams did not respond to questions on why she believes the law is a “loophole” for criminals to carry guns. The law allows those over 21-years-old to carry a concealed firearm without a permit but only if they are not otherwise prohibited from owning guns. Under the proposal, felons and those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse offenses remain prohibited from owning or carrying firearms.
In January, Abrams expounded on her opposition to permitless carry.
“It is not simply about the crimes being committed; it’s about how safe we are in our own communities,” she said at the time. “Why we would make it easier for people who have felonies, who have mental illnesses, who have demonstrated a lack of responsibility… why would we make it easier for them to carry weapons? Why would we make it easier for our communities to be put in harm’s way?”
In February, she claimed Kemp supported the legislation despite knowing it was unnecessary and unpopular.
“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. “The permit system was just fine to him for the first three years he was in office.”
Tate Mitchell, a spokesperson for Governor Kemp, said Abrams was “using tired Democrat talking points” to distract from her own record on guns.
“She is for stripping away Georgians’ 2nd Amendment rights,” Tate told The Reload. “As Georgians witness crime spikes in liberal states and cities across the country, Governor Kemp will continue to fight for their constitutional rights to defend themselves and their families.”
Kemp himself said in February that Abrams’s concerns were unfounded.
“Obviously, those individuals shouldn’t be allowed to carry,” he told The Reload. “The legislation would prevent that. But when you have people that break the law, they don’t really care about this.”
He accused Abrams of saying “she doesn’t want law-abiding people to have firearms and to be able to carry,” and the law is “about letting lawful people be able to carry their weapon and protect themselves.” He said she “wants to confiscate your guns.” Abrams’s campaign called the comments “scare tactics,” and she “supports the Second Amendment with common sense gun safety laws supported by a majority of gun owners.”
Georgia will hold its primary elections on May 24th. The winners will face off in the general election on November 8th.
UPDATE 5-5-2022 3:31 PM Eastern: This piece has been updated with new comment from Governor Kemp’s office.