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Giffords Denounces Signing of Dangerous Permitless Carry Legislation in Georgia

Washington, DC — Despite the continued surge in gun violence across the United States, lawmakers in Georgia passed a bill to authorize permitless carry. The legislation they passed and Governor Brian Kemp signed, SB 319, will allow people who haven’t undergone any training or passed a background check to carry concealed loaded handguns in public places. Giffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, denounced the dangerous policy. 

“Tragically, communities across Georgia will likely experience the harmful effects of gun violence even more so with the signing of this reckless bill,” said Sean Holihan, state legislative director at Giffords. “Instead of focusing on protecting Georgians, Governor Kemp has made it his mission to pass reckless laws in the middle of a wave of gun violence affecting the Peach State from Calhoun to Cairo. Instead of passing effective laws, like strengthened background checks, Governor Kemp has eliminated protections that help prevent people who can’t pass a background check from being able to carry hidden loaded weapons in public spaces. Governor Kemp has ignored the voice of Georgians and chosen the special interests of the gun lobby over families and communities.”

SB 319 will also make it easier for  people with demonstrated histories of violence— including people convicted of certain violent hate crimes and domestic violence offenses—to carry hidden loaded guns outside the home. In January, The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionpublished a poll that showed “nearly 70% of poll respondents said they do not believe adults in Georgia should be allowed to carry concealed handguns in public without first getting a license.” With the passage of this legislation, Georgia is now part of a worrying trend that’s seen a rise in states passing permitless carry over the past few years. 

According to Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard, Georgia received an F due to its extremely weak gun laws. The state’s existing gun laws are filled with gaps and loopholes that endanger community safety and make the state a leading source of guns trafficked to other states and nations across its borders. Nonetheless, existing state law at least requires people to pass a background check to be licensed to carry loaded concealed handguns in public places. SB 319 would do away with these basic protections.