Over 5,200 people were denied a concealed carry permit in Georgia in 2020 due to prior criminal records, outstanding arrests, mental health flags, or domestic violence charges. Imagine the potential gun crimes that could have been committed if those thousands of guns were on our streets.
Last week, Brian Kemp signed SB 319 into law, which means that people like those individuals deemed unfit to carry a firearm by a commonsense background check process can now carry hidden, loaded guns in public. In particular, this new law could allow individuals with a criminal history who purchased a gun through a private sale to carry a firearm in our communities without a background check.
Background checks are not required for private gun sales. Our concealed carry permitting system is one of the only mechanisms that ensures background checks are performed on those purchasing guns through private sales. Removing the requirement to pass that background check before carrying a firearm in public makes our communities less safe, plain and simple.
The governor’s decision to sign the dangerous bill into law comes after Georgia’s rate of gun deaths increased 41 percent from 2011 to 2020. Our state also has the 17th highest rate of gun deaths.
And as we’re seeing worsening gun violence, anti-Asian violence has risen nationally: hate crimes targeting members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community rose 73 percent in 2020, with a 150 percent increase in our country’s 15 largest cities.
Across the nation, our community has seen firsthand how hateful rhetoric can lead to an increase in violence, and here in Georgia we have directly experienced the connection between surging anti-Asian hate and vicious gun violence.
Just thirteen months have passed since eight people were murdered in the horrific March 16, 2021 shootings in the Atlanta area. And yet, with permit-less carry now the law of the land, Georgia is going the wrong way on gun safety.
States that weakened their gun permitting systems saw up to a 15 percent increase in violent crime and states that passed permit-less carry laws saw spikes in aggravated assaults with a gun up to 65 percent. Brian Kemp’s reckless new law will lead to more guns on our streets and more gun violence in our communities.
With data showing the permit-less carry law is detrimental to public safety, law enforcement speaking out against it, mayors voicing their concerns, and 70% of Georgians opposing it, Kemp’s sudden efforts to sign it into law raise the question as to why we’re seeing this change now.
Sadly, there’s a simple answer — politics. Governor Kemp is seeking re-election this year, but he’s facing a brutal challenge in the Republican primary from David Perdue, who’s been endorsed and supported by Donald Trump.
Without Trump’s endorsement of Perdue, we wouldn’t be seeing this new law — Kemp announced his endorsement for the initiative after Perdue entered the race and declared his support for such a measure. Kemp pushed this dangerous proposal through to appeal to Republican primary voters, with no worry about the public safety risks of guns potentially being carried without background checks.
We should be taking action to ensure background checks are performed on every individual carrying a gun in order to try and prevent deadly weapons from falling into the wrong hands. But Kemp’s new law is moving us in the opposite direction by loosening safety checks.
No re-election campaign is worth endangering Georgians’ lives — we deserve better than a governor like Brian Kemp who puts his political career over public safety.
Senator Michelle Au is the first Chinese American and AAPI woman to serve in the Georgia State Senate.
Representative Marvin Lim is the first Filipino American to serve in the Georgia Legislature.
Representative Bee Nguyen is the first AAPI Democratic woman ever elected and first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia Legislature.
Representative Sam Park is the first AAPI Democrat ever elected and the only Korean American serving in the Georgia Legislature.
Senator Rahman is the first Bangladeshi American to serve in the Georgia State Senate.