Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a law on Tuesday allowing residents to carry handguns in public without a license or background check.
Kemp, a Republican, backed a similar proposal when he ran for governor in 2018, and expanding gun rights was a key part of his platform. He urged the legislature to address the issue at a press conference earlier this year.
“(This bill) ensures that law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters and your family, can protect themselves without having to get permission from your state government,” Kemp said Tuesday before signing the bill. law. “It’s an issue I campaigned on in 2018 alongside so many members who stand with us today. And working together, we’ve crossed the finish line.”
The law allows a “legitimate gun bearer” to carry a concealed handgun where firearms are permitted without a state license. A “legitimate gun bearer” is defined as anyone who has the right to purchase a firearm.
Under current law, Georgians must obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun outside their home, business or car. This requires completing an application, paying a fee, submitting fingerprints, and undergoing a background check.
Long guns can already be transported in many places without a permit. Background checks will always be required when purchasing a handgun from a store or dealer.
Kemp will likely spend a lot of time on the campaign trail touting legislation leading up to his May 24 primary against former Sen. David Perdue. Kemp and supporters of the legislation have argued that the law improves personal safety and protects Second Amendment rights.
Although Kemp touted his support for such legislation during the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Perdue tried to claim credit for pushing Kemp and GOP lawmakers to address the issue.
“A lot of the things they accomplished in that session happened after I got into the race,” Perdue told Fox News last week. “The constitutional postponement was going nowhere. I walked in and said we should have a constitutional postponement. Next thing I know they’re working on a bill to achieve that.”
A January poll by the Atlanta Journal Constitution found that 44% of Republicans in the state supported allowing concealed handguns to be carried in public without a permit. Overall, 70% of registered Georgian voters opposed such a measure.
Democrats and gun safety advocates said the license application process has led to the denial of licenses to thousands of people who are not allowed to own guns, including convicted felons and people hospitalized for mental health problems or treated for addiction in recent years. A National Bureau of Economic Research study found that states that relaxed licensing requirements saw a 13-15% increase in violent crime 10 years later.
“Kemp knows that states that pass criminal portage see an increase in gun violence,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tweeted. “He knows that over 5,200 permits have been denied in a single year, for example, because of felony convictions or domestic violence. He knows the danger. Kemp doesn’t care.”
Abrams and other opponents have called the law “criminal carry” by playing on the term that advocates its use, “constitutional carry.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in January that law enforcement officials were divided on the issue.
In addition to the gun legislation signed into law on Tuesday, Kemp will likely tout other conservative bills passing the legislature in the coming weeks, including bills limiting how teachers talk about race in the classroom. , potentially allowing the state athletic association to ban transgender athletes from participating. in women’s sports and giving theto investigate allegations of voter fraud.