Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced he would push to loosen requirements on carrying a handgun in public spaces in the state.
The Peach State governor said at a press conference Wednesday that he was looking forward to working with the state House and Senate, which are both controlled by Republicans and the National Rifle Association, “to get constitutional carry across the finish line this legislative session.”
“Building a safer, stronger Georgia starts with hard-working Georgians having the ability to protect themselves and their families,” the governor said at a press conference. “In the face of rising violent crime across the country, law-abiding citizens should have their constitutional rights protected, not undermined.”
Georgia gun laws currently require residents to obtain a license to carry a gun in public, including vehicles and businesses.
Kemp has been a longtime supporter of the Second Amendment. According to The Hill, during his first campaign in 2018, Kemp used a controversial campaign ad featuring him pointing a gun at a teenage boy who was “interested in one of his daughters.”
One reason Kemp made the announcement could be the fight he’s facing in the Republican primary for his seat. Former Georgia Sen. David Perdue, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is running against Kemp. Kemp is likely to lose many of Trump’s supporters in the race as he still blames Kemp for not overturning President Joe Biden’s win in the state that carried him to the White House.
Another reason Kemp may want to loosen restrictions on handguns is that Black residents, especially Black men, account for the highest number of gun violence victims in the state.
NewsOne reports that data from the Atlanta Police Department shows between January and May 2021, there were 311 shooting victims. Statistics show that 291 of those victims were Black and 252 were Black men.
Several Black politicians in the state expressed their concerns about Kemp’s new initiative. State Rep. Lucy McBath posted on Twitter reminding residents of the spa shootings that killed eight people less than a year ago, adding that her own son was a victim of gun violence.
“Less than a year after a shooting spree left eight Georgians dead in three spas across Metro Atlanta, state officials are trying to make it easier for anybody to wield guns around our children, around our families and throughout our communities.”
Lauren Groh-Wargo, the campaign manager for Stacey Abrams, who is again running for governor, referenced Kemp’s 2018 advertisement in a Tweet blasting Kemp’s announcement.
“The same guy who pointed a gun at a teenager on TV now panders with reckless proposals threatening Georgia lives. As her opponents run to dangerous extremes and fight desperately to salvage their political careers, @staceyabrams is fighting for Georgians and their safety.”