(The Center Square) – Georgians soon could be able to carry guns outside their houses without a license.
The Georgia House voted, 100-67, Wednesday in favor of Senate Bill 319 to eliminate the need for a permit. Currently, Georgians must obtain a firearms license, which costs about $75 but may vary by county.
The “constitutional carry” measure now returns to the Senate to consider changes the House made to the bill. A similar piece of legislation, House Bill 1358, is pending in the state Senate.
“This ensures that citizens have the right to self-defense without government red tape or delays,” the National Rifle Association of America-Institute for Legislative Action said in a blog post. “Additionally, this legislation maintains the existing concealed handgun license system, so citizens who still wish to obtain a permit may do so.”
While Republicans championed the legislation as reducing the reach of government, Democrats said the measure could lead to more crime.
“Georgia needs more gun safety laws, not fewer,” The Associated Press quoted state Rep. Shea Roberts, D-Atlanta, as saying. “No law can stop all dangerous behavior. But why would we want to make criminals feel more comfortable carrying in public, knowing they can now freely carry, no questions asked?”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, is likely to sign the measure should it make it to his desk.
“It’s great to see so much support for the 2nd Amendment, as the General Assembly considers bills to uphold this fundamental right,” the governor wrote on social media. “I am committed to working with both the Georgia House and Senate to get Constitutional Carry across the finish line!”
After passing the measure, a vote to reconsider the bill failed.