As Kemp Signs Dangerous “Criminal Carry” Bill, Voters Hear How New Law Weakens Public Safety

April 15, 2022

On Tuesday, before Brian Kemp visited Douglasville to sign the dangerous “criminal carry” bill into law, concerned Georgians gathered nearby to denounce the legislation, discuss the detrimental impact it will have on public safety, and condemn the governor’s politically-driven support for the initiative.

Kemp pushed the new law, which has caused major concerns among law enforcement and is opposed by 70 percent of Georgians, as he faces brutal attacks from Donald Trump and his endorsed gubernatorial candidate David Perdue in a Republican primary which is growing nastier each day. Perdue has claimed credit for the dangerous new law, telling Fox News that it wasn’t until he got into the race against Kemp that the legislation was filed and that the initiative was “going nowhere” without his efforts.

Seven mayors from across Georgia also sent Brian Kemp a letter ahead of the “criminal carry” bill signing to share concerns from their communities – including local law enforcement – and ask Kemp to reconsider his support for the bill. Watch coverage from WTVM (Columbus), WALB (Albany), and WSAV(Savannah).

Here’s what Georgians are seeing:

Fox 5: Kemp signs bill allowing people to carry handguns without a license in Georgia into law

  • Democrats have pointed out that it does away with a background check that was triggered by the license application, and they say that will fuel shooting deaths.
  • “This legislation will potentially allow individuals with a criminal history who purchase a gun through a private sale to legally carry a hidden, loaded weapon in our communities,” said state Rep. Kimberly Alexander, D-Hiram.
  • “I think that’s great,” said David Perdue. “It’s too bad it took four years to get it done and it’s too bad it took me getting in the race for them to get any energy to get that done, but I’m glad it’s getting done.”

WSB-TV: Governor signs bill into law allowing Georgians to carry guns without permits

  • Meanwhile, Georgia Democrats gathered just two doors down from the sporting goods store where Kemp signed the bill into law.
  • They oppose the bill, saying it will just lead to more violence.
  • “The logic that if we put more guns on the street, we put guns in more people’s hands, that there would be less crime is the dumbest thing I ever heard,” said state Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta.

Watch on CBS 46

  • Anchor: The bill effectively removes the requirement of a permit from the state to carry handguns in public without a license or background check. Democrats say it could lead to heightened gun violence, Republicans argue it will help Georgians protect themselves.
  • Anchor: A group of Georgia Democrats condemned the legislation.
  • State Rep. Roger Bruce: “The logic that if we put more guns on the street, we put guns in more people’s hands, that there would be less crime is the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Watch on WRDW

  • Anchor: Around the same time Governor Kemp announced the new law, Georgia Democrats held a press conference rallying against it. They say allowing more people to carry could lead to bigger issues with crime.
  • State Sen. Donzella James: “I believe in the Second Amendment, but why are we spreading the access of guns to everyone?”

Watch on WCTV

  • Anchor: Many state Democrats calling the bill dangerous, making things easier for criminals, they say.
  • State Sen. Donzella James: “Yes, this ‘criminal carry’ bill is deeply unpopular with Georgians, and it’s easy to see why. This legislation makes it easier for criminals to carry a hidden loaded gun in public without a permit, or its background check process — it’s a gravely dangerous change to our current system.”

AP News: Facing primary, Georgia’s Kemp delivers on looser gun laws

  • Kemp’s advocacy of permitless carry had grown quieter after he took office. He supported some gun rights expansions but talked little of constitutional carry, failing to mention the issue in his 2019, 2020 or 2021 State of the State speeches.
  • “It’s too bad it took four years to get it done, and it’s too bad it took me getting in the race for them to get any energy to get that done,” Perdue said of the gun law.
  • At an event before Kemp signed the law, several Democratic lawmakers lambasted the measure as “criminal carry,” saying it would remove one of Georgia’s few deterrents blocking people who aren’t supposed to carry a gun.
  • Under Georgia law, people who have been convicted of a felony, are facing felony charges or have been treated for certain mental health issues within the past five years can’t carry a gun. The new law doesn’t change that. But it removes the background check for a permit to carry a loaded or concealed handgun in public. Democrats note that more than 5,000 people applied for permits last year and were blocked, and say police and the public will now face the danger of some of those people carrying guns.
  • “Yes, I believe in the Second Amendment,” said Sen. Donzella James, an Atlanta Democrat. “But why are we spreading the access to guns to everyone?”
  • Democrats point to polling showing the measure is unpopular with a majority of the public, saying Kemp has become a prisoner of his party’s right wing.

Henry Herald (Capitol Beat): Gov. Brian Kemp signs legislation allowing people to carry concealed firearms without a permit in Georgia

  • Tuesday’s signing ceremony drew a great deal of attention, with legislative Democrats who opposed the permit-less carry bill and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in next month’s Republican gubernatorial primary, weighing in.
  • Democrats held a news conference a short distance from the signing ceremony shortly before Kemp’s event, accusing him of pandering to GOP primary voters and gun-rights groups.
  • “It appears that our governor is feeling the pressure to bow to extremists and special interests,” said state Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta. “It’s a sad day across Georgia when our leaders care more about their political careers than ensuring our communities are safe.”
  • Perdue endorsed the legislation, then took credit for it.
  • “I think that’s great,” Perdue said of the bill during a news conference outside the Georgia Capitol. “It’s too bad it took four years to get it done and too bad it took me getting in the race.”

GPB: Kemp signs bill allowing permitless carry of a concealed handgun in public

  • Democrats and advocates for stricter gun laws point to similar unsettling trends and say the law will do away with one of the few background checks Georgia has on the books and at a moment in time when gun violence is already reaching record levels.
  • Georgia does not require a background check in private sales of firearms, so oftentimes permit applications are the first time a check is required.
  • A poll conducted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that nearly 70% of Georgia voters opposed permitless carry and said they believe adults in Georgia should not be able to carry a concealed handgun in public without a license.
  • The Republican governor is caught in a heated primary battle against an array of contenders, including former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in the race.
  • State Sen. Donzella James, an Atlanta Democrat, accused Kemp of using the legislature to push him ahead of his primary opponents. “Who is he serving with this bill?” James said. “Some say himself. They say he’s serving himself by catering to special interest groups, extremists and the far right pro-Trump base. ‘Criminal carry’ is a blatant effort by the governor to score political points in an election year.”
  • Earlier Tuesday, Perdue, too, questioned why it took so long for Kemp to make good on his campaign promise.

AJC: Gov. Kemp signs bill allowing concealed carry of handguns without a license

  • In the three years after his election, Kemp did little publicly to push permit-less carry at the Legislature, until former U.S. Sen. David Perdue declared he would challenge the governor for the state’s highest office. Perdue accused Kemp of being a “career politician who hasn’t delivered” for gun rights advocates or backed other cultural issues popular with the party’s conservative core.
  • While pursuing permit-less carry is considered a play for GOP voters, a poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this year found that about 70% of Georgia voters polled do not believe Georgians should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon without first obtaining a license. Of those, 54% of respondents who identified as Republican and 60% of those who said they were conservative opposed allowing handguns to be carried without a permit.
  • Law enforcement officials are split on the idea and declined to take an official stance on the bill as it made its way through the Legislature.
  • Opponents said Republicans are pushing legislation to remove the handgun licensing process to play to the GOP base. They said the permit process has screened out some who don’t have the legal right to carry a gun. Without it, there will be nothing to stop those people from carrying a gun and potentially committing violence.
  • At a press conference featuring some state Democratic lawmakers before the governor signed the bill, state Sen. Donzella James of College Park called Kemp’s support of the legislation a campaign tactic.


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