Georgia Gov. Kemp Signs ‘Constitutional Carry’ Bill Into Law

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
April 13, 2022 Updated: April 13, 2022

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed a bill into law that immediately allows permitless handgun carry for most residents in the state.

The measure, Senate Bill 319, dubbed the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act, passed the legislature April 1 mainly along party lines.

It allows residents to carry a concealed a firearm without a license, with the exception of people convicted of a felony, or those have been treated for certain mental health issues within the past five years.

The Republican governor said at a signing ceremony that the new law allows Georgians “to protect themselves without having to have permission from your state government.”

“The Constitution of the United States gives us that right, not the government,” Kemp said.

Republicans argue that requiring a carry permit, which costs about $75, infringes on Second Amendment gun rights. They also cite permitting delays in some Georgia counties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia state Republican Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a sponsor of the bill, said during the signing ceremony, “Today was a victory for the safety, security and constitutional rights of hardworking Georgians.”

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

Epoch Times Photo
A National Rifle Association member look over pistols in the Remington display at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Atlanta, Georgia on April 29, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Georgia Democrats held a rally on Tuesday in protest of the legislation, which 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.

Background checks would still be required when purchasing a handgun from a store or a dealer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“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?”

“We refuse to accept a Georgia where it’s easier for criminals to carry guns but hard for many Georgians to get health care,” Georgia Democrats wrote on Twitter. “We must change our leadership in November and defeat Brian Kemp.”

Georgia is the 25th state with such a law, and the 10th added in the past two years.

“People don’t have to carry if they don’t want to,” Kemp told reporters on Tuesday. “But this is a constitutional authority that people have, and they certainly shouldn’t have a piece of paper from the government to be able to legally carry a weapon.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.