The Georgia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued the following statement after the Georgia Senate voted to pass SB 319, dangerous legislation to eliminate the state’s permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public. If signed into law, this legislation would allow people to carry loaded handguns, openly or concealed, in public without a permit or background check — a policy shown to increase gun violence in other states. SB 319 would also allow people as young as 18 years old to carry without a permit and remove the state’s permitting requirement for carrying concealed handguns on public college campuses, putting Georgia in the extreme minority of states that require colleges to allow people to carry concealed handguns without a permit. This vote comes despite recent polling from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showing overwhelming opposition to permitless carry from Georgia voters. The bill now moves to the House, which has also considered similar legislation.
“Permitless carry is unpopular and deadly, and it has no place in Georgia,” said Sharmaine Brown, a volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Shame on our lawmakers for putting us at even higher risk of gun violence in a woefully ignorant effort to curry favor with extremists.”
States that have weakened their firearm permitting system have experienced a 13-15 percent increase in violent crime rates and an 11 percent increase in handgun homicide rates. Permitless carry has been staunchly opposed by law enforcement across the country, including in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. More information about permitless carry is available here.
States with weaker gun laws have higher rates of gun deaths; Georgia has some of the country’s weakest firearm laws, scoring only 11.5 out of 100 for gun law strength while maintaining an above average level of gun violence. The concealed carry permit requirement is one of Georgia’s only remaining foundational gun safety laws, and today’s vote puts the state at risk of eliminating one of their last public safety guardrails and exacerbating their gun violence crisis.
In an average year, 1,693 people die by guns in the state of Georgia, and 4,492 more are wounded. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Georgia. Gun violence costs Georgia $12.0 billion each year, of which $581.3 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in Georgia is available here.