Mar 1, 2022 - News

Georgia Senate advances "permit-less" concealed weapons carry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Georgia state Senate passed a controversial bill Monday that would allow any “lawful weapons carrier” to carry a concealed handgun without a license anywhere concealed weapons are already allowed.

What’s happening: The bill passed along party lines in the state Senate and now heads to the state House where, given Gov. Brian Kemp’s support, it’s likely to pass.

  • It removes an existing requirement for a permit application process for Georgians to carry concealed handguns. There is no permit requirement for long guns.
  • It does not change rules about where weapons are allowed in Georgia.
  • This is a top policy priority of Kemp.

Catch up quick: This has been proposed in Georgia before and passed in other states with the backing of gun rights groups. But the idea didn’t progress until Kemp prioritized it.

Of note: In an AJC poll last month, nearly 70% of Georgians said they do not support such a proposal, including 54% of Republicans.

What they’re saying: The bill’s GOP sponsor, state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, said the legislation lifts an “unnecessary burden on law-abiding Georgians” who want to protect themselves from criminals.

Republican state Senate leader Butch Miller said, “Some say this is a bad time to expand gun rights.”

  • “I say it’s a good time to protect our constitutional rights,” he said.

The other side: Democratic state Sen. Sally Harrell said Georgia has “lost all reasonableness and logic” when it comes to guns.

  • State Sen. Elena Parent pointed out that Georgia’s gun laws already have “F” ratings from pro-gun safety groups, including the Giffords Law Center.

The intrigue: Law enforcement is split on the issue. The Georgia Sheriffs Association told the AJC that it would not take a position. But members of the Mercer University Police force told the Mercer Cluster they are concerned about the effect the legislation might have.

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