The Georgia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action released the following statement ahead of the signing of SB319, permitless carry legislation to eliminate the state’s permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public. Governor Brian Kemp will sign the bill into law during a ceremony at Gable’s Sporting Goods in Douglasville this afternoon.
“I can’t think of a more fitting end to this shameful process than Governor Kemp signing SB319, surrounded by the gun lobbyists he’s bent over backwards to appease,” said Courtney Spriggs, former law enforcement officer and a volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Shame on Kemp, and shame on every lawmaker who joined him in ramming this reckless bill through. They have undermined public safety and ignored those fighting to keep their communities safe every step of the way, but we aren’t going anywhere. We will be holding our leaders accountable for the violence they’re enabling, we will make sure of it.”
“My generation is sick of being forced to live in a world shaped by the cowardice of politicians,” said Hannah Levy, a volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Students Demand Action. “Governor Kemp and these lawmakers continue to show us that they think public safety is expendable during primary years. This is not the world we want, and we won’t stop fighting for the future we deserve.”
Permitless carry is a dangerous policy — 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. On top of being dangerous, permitless carry is also unpopular. Polling from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed overwhelming opposition to permitless carry from Georgia voters, with nearly 70 percent responding that they do not believe adults in Georgia should be allowed to carry concealed handguns in public without first getting a license. Permitless carry has also been staunchly opposed by law enforcement across the country, including in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
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 was one of Georgia’s only remaining foundational gun safety laws, and experts warn that the passage of permitless carry could worsen the state’s ongoing 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.