Constitutional Carry efforts get a boost in Georgia

AP Photo/Michael Hill

The Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia is already proving to be bitterly divisive, but the two candidates are on the same page when it comes to at least one issue: Constitutional Carry. Both incumbent governor Brian Kemp and his Trump-approved challenger David Perdue say they support the idea, which could dramatically improve the odds of success when the 2022 legislative session kicks off in early January.

Just two weeks after David Perdue entered the race for governor, his attempts to outflank incumbent Brian Kemp are kicking into a new gear with a promise to pass a “constitutional carry” gun proposal if he’s elected governor.

Perdue’s campaign didn’t specify what potential legislation should include, but he said in a statement to the AJC, “As governor, I’ll work with the state Legislature to finally enact constitutional carry. Georgia needs a bold leader who will make waves to get things done – not a career politician who hasn’t delivered.”

… Kemp famously made gun rights a top issue in his 2018 campaign with multiple ads that included him with shotguns. He endorsed constitutional carry during his first run for governor, but it’s stalled in the Legislature. State Sen. Jason Anvitarte is among the GOP legislators who pushed the pending measure in 2021.

Kemp’s campaign said the governor would also push the “important” measure in next year’s legislative session, yet another indication of how Perdue’s challenge will trigger new debates over hot-button cultural issues.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall also mocked Perdue’s recent social media posts featuring the former senator casually chatting with customers in gun stores around Georgia.

“Stopping by a few gun stores in designer clothes and sending out a panicked statement before Christmas isn’t going to convince hardworking Georgians that David Perdue gives a rip about 2nd Amendment rights,” tweeted Hall.

I don’t have a dog in this particular political fight, though I have to admit I chuckled at a former U.S. senator who’s now running for governor complaining about “career politicians”. I’m just happy to see Kemp and Perdue compete to be the most 2A-friendly candidate.

I’m actually hoping that the issue will be moot by the time Election Day rolls around next November, because the legislature will have already approved Constitutional Carry. The biggest hurdle isn’t going to be getting the governor to sign a permitless carry bill, however. It’s likely going to be getting House Speaker David Ralston on board with the idea.

Earlier this year Ralston refused to allow a final vote on a bill expanding right-to-carry reciprocity, so it’s hard to imagine that he’s going to be eager to get rid of the requirement that legal gun owners obtain a government-issued license before exercising their right to bear arms.

House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) said after the session ended Wednesday night that the recent mass shootings, including one in metro Atlanta, played a factor in his not calling up House Bill 218 for a vote.

“Frankly, I thought we needed to be very, very sensitive to any gun legislation,’’ he told reporters. “We’re less than two weeks out from two major mass killings. That heightens my level of sensitivity to that.’’

… Ralston noted in his comments after the session ended that the House has shown strong support for the Second Amendment over the years.

On the bill not coming up for a final vote Wednesday, he added, “I’ll take any criticism that comes and we’ll deal with it. There’s always another day to talk about these things.’’

Well, that ‘nother day will soon be here, and Ralston’s going to get to talk about more than just universal recognition of carry licenses from other states. Constitutional Carry is going to be a huge issue for the state’s conservative voters in 2022, which Perdue and Kemp both seem to realize. Ralston, on the other hand, has appeared to be more concerned about what gun control activists and the anti-gun media might say about the passage of any legislation strengthening the right to keep and bear arms.

If either gubernatorial candidate want to demonstrate their ability to get things done, getting Ralston to back Constitutional Carry would be a great way to do it. Conversely, allowing him to derail Constitutional Carry next session, would not only be a sign of political impotence on the part of Perdue and Kemp, but could very well lead to depressed turnout among Republicans and gun owners angry over the inability of a GOP-controlled state government to get Constitutional Carry across the finish line.