Georgia 2A group aims at lowering age to carry

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

With Georgia becoming a Constitutional Carry state last year, some might think that Second Amendment advocates in the state wouldn’t have much more to accomplish in their mission to secure the right to keep and bear arms. The folks at GA2A, however, say they have big plans for the upcoming legislative session, including a tweak to the state’s permitless carry law.

GA2A would like to see several other changes, including removing probate court offices from the list of “sensitive places” where firearms are prohibited and removing the fine for carrying in a church or other house of worship if guns have been banned from the premises, but it’s the amending of the permitless carry law that will likely draw the most attention… and opposition from Democrats.

“Since you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to go to Afghanistan and places like that when you’re 18 years old, we feel like you’re old enough to defend yourself when you come back from those places,” said Jerry Henry, executive director of GA2A, which backed constitutional carry this year.

Although “constitutional carry” eliminated the requirement for permits, Georgians can still get them to use in other states that honor out-of-state gun-carry permits.

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to carry into a probate court to get a firearms license,” Henry said.

Yes there is, said Democratic state Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta).

“The argument from this group is that more people having more guns in more places makes people safer. Anyone can take a look around American society and certainly in Georgia and see that that’s simply not true,” she said, citing increases in gun-related assaults and killings.

We’ve gone over this before, but just a quick reminder: if more guns led to more crime then the U.S. crime rate would be constantly rising since every year millions of firearms are sold to peaceable Americans. If concealed carry led to more crime we’d see it as well. Instead, what statistics show is that crime fell by more than 50% between 1991 and 2019, and it wasn’t until the COVID pandemic, court closures, widespread riots, and defund the police efforts in 2020 that we saw a crime spike.

More importantly, you don’t fight violent crime by making it harder for law-abiding people to protect themselves. You do it by going after violent offenders themselves. In fact, Brian Kemp announced just a few months ago that the state would spend $100-million on crime-fighting efforts around the state.

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen an unacceptable increase in violent crime all across the state, fueled by the pandemic and misguided efforts like the ‘Defund the Police’ movement which demoralized our hardworking law enforcement officers,” Kemp said. “With these funds, I am sending reinforcements to those on the front lines to help with recruitment and retention, crime reduction, violence intervention, and equipment and technology.”

Funds may be used to help law enforcement staffing, support violent crime reduction or community violence intervention programming, and invest in technology and equipment to respond to the rise in gun violence during the pandemic.

Each eligible applicant must provide supporting data documenting an increase in violent gun crimes and other community violence demonstrating the trend began during the pandemic or was worsened by it.

“Governor Kemp has demonstrated throughout his tenure as governor that he supports the men and women of law enforcement in their daily efforts to make Georgia a safe place to live and do business,” said Georgia Fraternal Order of Police President Jeff Wiggs. “Gov. Kemp also recognizes the dangers faced by our members and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis.”

Kemp handily won re-election earlier this month when Stacey Abrams’ calls for more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms fell flat with Georgia voters. That doesn’t guarantee that GA2A will see success with its legislative agenda next year, but with federal courts already starting to recognize the right of young adults to both keep and bear arms in self-defense, their push to lower the age for lawful permitless carry makes sense from both a political and constitutional standpoint.