Georgia governor indicators handgun-carrying regulation into regulation

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed legislation Tuesday allowing Georgians to conceal and carry a handgun without a permit.

The controversial new law, dubbed the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act, cleared the state legislature along the party line earlier this month. Georgia follows Alabama as the second state this year to enact a handgun permitless-carry law, but about 20 states have similar measures.

The law allows Georgians — with the exception of a criminal or a person who has been involved in psychiatric treatment within the past five years — to conceal and carry a handgun anywhere a licensed permit holder can.

During Tuesday’s signing ceremony, Georgia State Senator Jason Anavitarte (R) said “Today was a victory for the safety and constitutional rights of hard-working Georgians.”

“This bill is about self-protection and self-empowerment,” said Anavitarte, who supported the bill in the Senate. “It’s about discouraging criminals and empowering law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families.”

Georgia Democrats held a rally on Tuesday against the law, which they said puts Georgians at risk amid an ongoing escalation in mass shootings across the country — including a shooting that killed at least 23 people in a New Yorker on the same day Subway were violated law was passed.

Georgia state Democrats referred The Hill to a January Atlanta Journal constitutional poll showing that 70 percent of Georgians oppose the law while 28 percent support it.

The state Democratic Party called on Georgians to hold Kemp responsible for the gubernatorial election.

“We refuse to accept a Georgia where criminals find it easier to carry guns but many Georgians find it difficult to access medical care,” the Georgia Democrats tweeted. “We need to change our lead in November and defeat Brian Kemp.”

If he wins the Republican primary, Kemp will likely face Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in the midterms. On Tuesday, she tweeted that Kemp “knows states that pass #criminalcarry see an increase in gun violence.”

“He knows Georgians (Democrats, Independents and Republicans) oppose the law,” Abrams tweeted.

During Tuesday’s signing ceremony, Kemp said that under the new law, people who are eligible for carriage in another state can now be carried in Georgia without a permit.

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The governor said the safeguards are safeguards against crime and lawlessness that “will not have that here in our state.”

“Law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters and also your family, can protect themselves without being protected by your state government,” he said. “The United States Constitution gives us that right, not the government.”

-Updated April 13 at 10:36 am