ATLANTA — A new bill allowing Georgians to carry guns without permits has been filed for the upcoming session of the legislature.
HB2 would enact “Constitutional Carry,” a concept supported by Governor-elect Brian Kemp.
In Georgia, you can carry a concealed handgun, but it requires a background check and a carry permit. Brian Kemp is among the Georgians with a carry permit.
"I hunt, I shoot and I carry," Kemp said repeatedly on the stump during his campaign.
Kemp also supports eliminating the need for the carry permit for those otherwise legally qualified to own guns. It’s called “constitutional carry” among second amendment enthusiasts, who helped Kemp narrowly win the governorship.
"I’m just really thrilled that we actually have a governor that has gotten behind constitutional carry," said state Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger), who introduced the bill to eliminate the gun permit requirement.
"I don’t believe it’s radical at all. I think it’s conservative. It’s constitutional," Gurtler told 11Alive News. "In the constitution it says (the right to keep and bear arms) 'shall not be infringed.' We believe that’s a no-compromise statement."
Gurtler says the bill wouldn't eliminate the permit completely. Georgia would still offer permits so that gun owners can carry them in other states with permit reciprocity agreements.
The bill wouldn't change legal restrictions on who can carry a gun. Convicted felons, for example, still couldn’t possess weapons legally. But it would remove the permit requirement – and remove the background check that comes with a permit.
And it’s controversial. When 11Alive polled gun questions this spring, Georgians supported more gun restrictions, not less:
72% supported raising from 18 to 21 the minimum age to own a handgun.
51% supported a ban on assault rifles.
84% supported keeping the permit requirement to carry a handgun.
Supporters of gun restrictions think Constitutional Carry runs counter to what Georgians actually want.
"The polling data, the constituencies, the voting does not support more guns, more days, more places for any purpose. That is not what the will of Georgia is," said state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur).
Gurtler introduced the bill last year and the Republican leadership shelved it. Oliver predicts it will stay there.