(The Center Square) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, a “constitutional carry” measure allowing Georgians to carry guns without the need for a state-issued license.
“There is no doubt that we are living in challenging times,” Kemp said during a Tuesday bill signing ceremony. “Across the country, we’re witnessing liberal states and cities demonize law enforcement, defund police departments, undermine public safety and threaten the security of countless American families. But we are not going to have that here in our state.
“…SB 319 makes sure that law-abiding Georgians … can protect themselves without having to have permission from your state government,” Kemp added. “The Constitution of the United States gives us that right, not the government.”
While Georgia Republicans championed the legislation as reinforcing the Second Amendment and reducing the reach of government, state Democrats said it could lead to more violence.
“The Governor is signing lives away when he signs this bill,” Georgia Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, said in a statement. “It is a sad day for Georgia when we have to watch legislation enacted that we know will cause harm, as this will.
“The vast majority of our people oppose permitless carry, but obviously the Governor isn’t listening,” Butler added. “He wants more guns on the streets, and the shameful outcome of that is more gun violence.”
According to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Georgia is the 25th state to allow anyone who is allowed to own a gun to carry it without the need for a permit.
“My heart breaks for the victims of gun violence today, as we see the Georgia GOP continue to ignore facts and insist that more guns is the answer,” chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said in a statement. “This bill is bad for parents, for police officers, for victims of domestic violence, but that isn’t who the Governor is looking to protect. He’s not looking out for us. He’s looking out for his re-election chances.”
Beth Alcazar, a senior training counselor for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) and editor-at-large for Concealed Carry Magazine, applauded Kemp for signing the bill “to recognize Georgians’ natural born right to self-defense.”
“Americans should be able to protect themselves without permission from the government,” Alcazar told The Center Square. “Similarly, they should be responsible firearm owners without a government mandate. Owning a firearm is a major responsibility but it is up to the individual to hold themselves accountable, and responsibility starts with training.”
Kemp also signed House Bill 218, allowing anyone who is licensed to carry in another state to also carry in Georgia.