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Kemp signs controversial gun law at the worst possible time

In the wake of a mass shooting that reignited discussions on gun safety, Georgia's governor just made handgun carrying easier.


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, couldn’t have chosen a worse time to sign into law a bill that weakens gun safety measures in his state.

Just hours after a mass shooting in New York on Tuesday reignited discussions about curbing gun proliferation, Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, which makes it legal for most Georgians to carry and conceal handguns without a license.

At the bill-signing ceremony, Kemp claimed the new law “makes sure that law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters and your family too, can protect themselves without having to have permission from your state government.”

The party is obviously more wedded to the gun industry than it is to law enforcement.

He claimed owning a gun without a permit 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.”

It’s a shame the governor’s perception of constitutionally protected behavior is so narrow. He has gleefully signed bills that curtail the right to vote and the right to receive an abortion in Georgia, but he clearly feels the right to own a killing machine should be virtually unencumbered. What a morbid vision of what the Constitution is meant to do. 

Make no mistake: In Georgia, where several communities have seen spikes in gun ownership, gun theft and gun violence throughout the pandemic, Kemp’s view is out of line with most residents and even many law enforcement officials. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll conducted earlier this year found nearly 70 percent of Georgia voters who responded opposed letting people own guns without obtaining a license first. That includes roughly 54 percent of Republicans and about 60 percent of self-described conservatives. 

Several law enforcement figures in Georgia have spoken against the bill Kemp signed. That fits a national trend: Police, who often have to encounter individuals with guns, are outspoken about the dangers laws that promote gun proliferation pose to officers

That, in part, is what exposes the GOP’s “stand with police” rhetoric as a farce. The party is obviously more wedded to the gun industry than it is to law enforcement. Kemp himself has touted his self-proclaimed “support” for police in the past. But it’s clear the law he just enacted will make their lives more dangerous — and that’s sure to be the case for the rest of Georgia, as well.