Anti-Gunners Draw Strange Line in the Sand

AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File

If gun control was the winning issue that Georgia Democrats insist that it is, we’d be talking about Gov. Stacey Abrams these days instead of second-termer Brian Kemp. Abrams ran for governor in 2022 on an anti-gun platform that included repealing Constitutional Carry and reinstating several “gun-free zones” as well as enacting “universal” background checks and a red flag law. Abrams’ one nod to political reality in the Peach State was to admit that a ban on so-called assault weapons, which she supported personally, wasn’t tenable, but even that modest admission wasn’t enough to win over voters. When the ballots were tallied Kemp won re-election handily, defeating Abrams 53.4 – 45.9.

That should have been a wake-up call for Democratic politicians, but instead of acknowledging that most Georgians aren’t interested in infringing on the right to keep and bear arms they’ve dug in their heels and become even more recalcitrant about recognizing that right. As Tom Knighton pointed out earlier today, even the most modest pro-2A legislation has run into widespread opposition among Democratic lawmakers this year, including a bill that would grant five days of sales tax relief to those purchasing firearms and ammunition.

The Senate voted 30-22 on Tuesday to approve Senate Bill 344, sending it to the House for more debate. Sen. Jason Anavitarte, the Dallas Republican who is sponsoring the measure, says the tax break would promote hunting and the control of Georgia’s deer population. The tax holiday would last for five days in October just before the beginning of deer hunting season.

“We hope to expand the base of hunters and increase the tax revenue devoted to conservation,” Anavitarte said.

But Democrats said they don’t believe that Republicans are just interested in promoting hunting, noting that in committee GOP members rejected an amendment to limit the tax break to hunting rifles. They said the measure would encourage more guns and more violence.

“Instead of looking out for children and families, we’re looking out for gun manufacturers,” said Sen. Jason Esteves, an Atlanta Democrat. “You want to pander to politics that at the end of the day do not help everyday Georgians.”

Do I wish Republicans had simply come out and said that they want all lawful gun owners to get a break on buying guns and ammunition instead of tying the tax-free holiday to hunting? Of course. No lawmaker, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on, should be afraid or ashamed of making it easier for folks to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. But Democrats have been predicting that virtually every pro-2A measure adopted in the state is going to make it a more dangerous place, and they’ve been wrong time and again.

Last year, for instance, homicides declined by more than 10 percent in Savannah, over 20 percent in Atlanta, and a whopping 42 percent in Macon; all major success stories accomplished without any of the gun control laws that Democrats have been demanding.

Voting in favor of a sales tax holiday on firearms and ammunition would have been an easy way for them to demonstrate that Democrats aren’t adamantly opposed to any and all efforts to make it easier and more affordable to exercise our right to keep and bear arms, but even this modest proposal was too much for anti-gun senators like Esteves and Nabilah Islam Parkes, who complained that lawmakers should be exempting baby formula and tampons instead.

I wouldn’t have a problem with a sales tax holiday on those items either, to be honest. In fact, I’d be down with a true sales tax holiday that suspends the tax entirely for a few days, not just on firearms and ammunition but on every purchase in the state. Maybe Esteves and Parkes can propose something like that next year (though Esteves might accuse his colleague of looking out for the interests of the tampon and diaper lobbies) but their objections to this year’s proposal weren’t enough to derail the legislation, at least in the Senate. The House is considering a more modest proposal that would grant a $300 tax credit on firearms training and gun storage devices, but I’d say there’s a good chance that chamber will end up approving the Senate bill as well.

Voting for the sales tax holiday should have been a no-brainer for Democrats in a state like Georgia, and the fact that they were in lockstep opposition to the proposal is just more evidence that they’re not giving up on their war on guns (and gun owners) anytime soon. Instead of trying to woo the state’s conservative majority, they’re doubling down on the anti-2A hostility that led Abrams to defeat and has Donald Trump clobbering Joe Biden in recent polls in the state. They’re telling us exactly who they are and what they’d do to the right to keep and bear arms if they had the chance, and it looks like Georgia voters are receiving their message loud and clear.