Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Wednesday declared 2022 will be a historic year for gun enthusiasts, at a pep rally for state Republican lawmakers partnering with Second Amendment organizations to expand gun ownership rights
As dozens of people gathered across the street from the state Capitol in Liberty Plaza, Kemp delivered his firearm-friendly message to dozens of people gathered for the “March for the 2nd Rally” organized by the gun rights group GA2A.
Kemp said momentum continues to build behind legislation that would remove the requirement for gun permits and grant license reciprocity to states with similar gun laws.
Republicans in the Senate passed three pieces of gun legislation on Monday, including the so-called Constitutional Carry Act that will eliminate the requirement for a license to carry a concealed weapon, a process that now requires fingerprinting, a background check and a $75 permit fee.
“I’ve said before this session gaveled in this year it is my commitment as Georgia’s governor to fulfill my promise from the campaign trail in 2018 (to) see that legislation is over the finish line and sign this constitutional carry legislation when it gets to my desk,” Kemp said.
Other pro-gun legislation that cleared a House committee Wednesday includes another permit-less carry measure along with a bill allowing churches to decide if firearms are allowed on their property and limiting a governor’s ability to control guns during a state of emergency.
Wednesday’s rally illustrated the mounting tension between Republican and Democratic legislators, between gun rights activists who fear government intrusion on the right to bear arms, and gun control activists who point to rising violent crime rates and mass shootings as reasons to tighten gun regulations.
Mark Walters, the host of Armed American Radio, praised Kemp’s commitment to passing the permit-less carry bill before Kemp took the podium.
“A governor who in my estimation ran the most pro-gun gubernatorial campaign I have ever seen in my lifetime,” Walters said. “And a governor who in just a matter of days is going to make this state with his signature, the 22nd constitutional carry state in the nation.”
In November, Georgians will elect the next governor, attorney general, and lieutenant governor, three positions that can steer gun and criminal justice policies over the next four years.
“There’s no denying that we are at a crossroads when it comes to the future of our state and our country,” Kemp said. “The last few years we’ve all watched as liberal states and cities demonized law enforcement, refused to crack down on violent crime and undermined.”
During Monday’s debate on permit-less carry, Atlanta Democratic Sen. Elena Parent blamed the governor’s aggressive stance on gun expansion and various other issues on his primary challenger, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
And pro-gun extremists are using bullying tactics on GOP lawmakers to get what they want.
“It’s so sad to see legislators kowtowing to them, and embracing ignorance when it comes to dangerous weapons,” Parent said. “Can’t do better than that, y’all.? Data informs us that more guns leads to more violence, more accidents, more suicides. more bloodshed.”
Rep. Rick Jasperse, a Republican from Jasper, said at Wednesday’s rally the strong support of the pro-Second Amendment rights contingent provides a boost as legislation goes through committee hearings before making it before the full chamber.
He is the sponsor of House Bill 1378, which eliminates the ban on weapons in places of worship, allowing churches and other religious institutions to set their own policies,
Also included in the measure is a provision that stipulates during a state of emergency, a governor cannot force gun and ammunition manufacturers and retailers to shut down unless all other businesses are closed.
“We need that (committee) room full these days to be positive people behind their backs,” Jasperse said. “We can’t back down.”
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