Update April 12, 2022: Today, Governor Brian Kemp signed the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act into law. The law took effect immediately upon the Governor’s signing. Georgia became the 25th state to enact Constitutional Carry.
Update April 1, 2022: The Georgia State Senate has voted to “agree” on the language that the Georgia House substituted into SB319, and thus the bill has cleared the Georgia Legislature, and will now be sent to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for final signature into Law. As of this writing, Gov. Kemp has not declared when he will sign the bill into law.
Update March 29, 2022: The Senate Bill and the House Bill for Constitutional Carry have both been amended and approved in their respective chambers. The vote to approve the final bill, and send it to Gov. Kemp’s desk should take place the final week of March, before Sine Die, which is Monday, April 4, the final day of this year’s legislative session.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp came out swinging in this election year. This year the governor will face a primary challenge and then a general election against Stacy Abrams. Governor Kemp, in his first official announcement of 2022, declared his complete support for Constitutional Carry in Georgia.
What is Constitutional Carry?
“Constitutional Carry” is a commonly used phrase for a state’s declaration by legislation that the US Constitution is the only permission a law abiding individual requires in order to carry a firearm for self defense. If you’re a “Parks & Rec” fan, you’ll recall Ron Swanson handing a police officer a copy of the Constitution in response to the Officer’s inquiry about his permit to carry a firearm. Hollywood jests, but that’s what we mean. Firearm owners would no longer be required to pay for and wait 30-60 days (or longer, depending on the county) to receive a Weapons Carry License from the state in order to legally carry a firearm in public.
Supporters of Constitutional Carry believe that requiring a law abiding citizen to pay for and wait for a permit from a local municipality is the ‘infringement’ that the 2nd Amendment specifically forbids.
If Georgia adopts Constitutional Carry, the state would be the
22nd 25th (three other states have passed Constitutional or “permitless” carry since January!) state to do so.
Why do we support Constitutional Carry in Georgia?
Our business is based on the freedom to keep and bear arms. This freedom is protected by the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. We firmly support Constitutional Carry because it embodies that freedom, and eliminates what is clearly an obstacle, put in place by government, between every individual and his or her ability to bear arms for the purpose of self defense.
In shorter terms, why do we need a license to exercise a clearly protected right? There are lots of accepted reasons for a concealed carry permit requirement, including the following:
- So the government knows who is carrying
- So the government can tax those who choose to carry
- For the future creation of a firearms registry
- To make sure individuals who carry are not felons
There may be other reasons, but each is a justification for government action. Instead, Constitutional Carry offers an acknowledgement and support of the rights protected by the Constitution.
What Would Change?
If the effort passes in Georgia, and Governor Kemp signs the bill into law, very few things would change here in Georgia. The most obvious change would be that individuals who own a firearm legally can choose to carry that firearm on their person in public, whether they have a Georgia Weapons Carry License or not.
You’ll notice that “Weapons Carry License” says nothing about “concealed” carry. In Georgia, the statute for legally carrying a weapon calls for the weapon to be “cased and unloaded”, which means you can carry in a holster on your hip if you so choose. There are pros and cons to that tactic, but that’s a topic for another day.
What will not change is the requirements for legally purchasing and owning firearms. In fact, having your Georgia Weapons Carry License actually makes the process of buying a gun easier and faster. When you present your WCL, the dealer doesn’t have to do a background check. Without your WCL, the background check can take 20-60 minutes or sometimes longer if there’s a glitch in the system. There are some individuals who, unfortunately, have names that match pretty closely to the names of actual felons. That always causes undue stress at the checkout counter.
Furthermore, having and holding one’s WCL also enables the holder to participate in what is known as “reciprocity” when you travel outside the state of Georgia. Here’s a map of the states that offer reciprocity – meaning they recognize your WCL as permission to carry in their state as well.
So, even if this bill passes, I will maintain my Georgia Weapons Carry Permit so it’s easier to purchase firearms and carry outside the state of Georgia. I will encourage others to maintain their Permit for convenience purposes as well.
How do you support the Bill?
If you support this measure, and we hope you do, please call and email your state Representative and state Senator. You can find and contact those individuals from this link. My sources within the Georgia legislature have informed me that this measure has a very real chance at passage. I encourage each of you to contact your state lawmakers and politely ask them to support Constitutional Carry in Georgia.