Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said on Jan. 5 that he would push for a state law to loosen requirements for state residents to carry a handgun in public.
Kemp, a Republican, announced the effort at a gun store near Atlanta alongside state lawmakers and gun owners.
“In the face of rising violent crime across the country, law-abiding citizens should have their constitutional rights protected, not undermined,” he said. “And while this position has recently become popular for others as we enter the campaign season, my position has remained the same. I believe the United States Constitution grants the citizens of our state the right to carry a firearm without state government approval.”
Kemp referenced multiple pieces of legislation, including some already introduced, that would make so-called constitutional carry legal and said he would throw his weight behind them and work together with Republican lawmakers and groups such as the National Rifle Association to “perfect” the proposals.
Kemp is facing multiple primary challengers, including former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), as he seeks a second term this year.
Perdue claimed credit for Kemp’s constitutional carry push, writing on social media this week that the governor was “answering my call.”
“But real leaders lead from the start—and it’s time Georgia had a Governor who shows principled leadership when it matters most. That’s exactly what I’ll deliver on day one,” Perdue said.
The campaign of Stacey Abrams, a major Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate, also panned Kemp.
“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, [Stacey Abrams] is fighting for Georgians and their safety,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’s campaign manager, wrote on Twitter.
Groh-Wargo was referring to Kemp’s wielding shotguns during ads that had aired previously.
Kemp campaigned in 2018 on constitutional carry, but hasn’t devoted much time to the issue before now. He touted his accomplishments when asked about the delay and indicated legislative support may not have been present earlier in his term.
Republicans have controlled both state chambers throughout the term, though lawmakers haven’t yet approved any of the measures in question.
Lt. Col. Willis Lee, vice president of the NRA, said Georgia should become the 22nd state to enact constitutional carry.
“The Second Amendment is most important in the face of leftist policies, foisted by leftist politicians and judges. And as long as there are anti-American anti-gun zealots who try to take our civil rights, NRA members will stand and fight this year next year and into the future.”