ATLANTA — The Georgia House on Wednesday approved a bill that would let Georgians carry a concealed handgun without first getting a license from the state.
Senate Bill 319 passed 100-67, with the Republican majority supporting it and Democrats opposing it. The bill is similar to a House measure lawmakers passed earlier this month.
Presenting the bill, Rep. Mandi Ballinger said there was no need to rehash the debate from a few weeks ago.
On March 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed House HB 1358, with a substitute amendment that replaced the wording of HB 1358, as passed by the House, with the wording for SB 319, as passed by the Senate. The bills are fairly similar. The main effect is to remove the requirement to have a concealed carry permit in order to carry weapons concealed in Georgia. The house amendment has not been posted yet.
Governor Kemp has come out strongly for a Constitutional Carry bill in Georgia. He is facing a tough primary. If either bill or a hybrid is passed by both chambers of the Georgia legislature, Governor Kemp has ample incentive to sign it. He has said he would do so. His primary opponents support Constitutional Carry as well.
There are still members of the Georgia legislature who oppose Constitutional Carry. They are primarily Democrats but include some Republicans who would like to see both bills die. It could happen, if the Senate and House keep amending each other’s bill, eventually the clock could run out without either passing. That seems unlikely, but hotly contested issues often produce unusual results.
It is in Governor Kemp’s interest to pass a Constitutional Carry bill before the primary occurs. The primary is to happen on May 24th. With an open primary, online registration, and same-day registration to vote, it is possible that crossover votes could make a difference.
In the legislature, there are possibilities of conference committees and legislative maneuvers, as has been seen in several other state legislatures. The March 30th vote in the House would appear to make it easy for the Senate to approve the bill. Much depends on what is in the amendment. Because the amendment has not been posted on the Georgia legislative website as of the time of this writing, the entire effect of the amendment is unknown.
Georgia is close to becoming the 25th state in the Constitutional Carry club. If it does so, half of the states in the union will have Constitutional Carry (permitless carry).
No permission from the state or federal government will be necessary to carry a handgun, in most public places, in the State of Georgia.
This year three states, Alabama, Ohio, and Indiana have joined the Constitutional Carry club. In addition to Georgia, Nebraska is close to passing a Constitutional Carry bill. The Nebraska bill will probably be voted on by April 11 of 2022. The current states which are members of the club are:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Those states represent over 60% of the landmass of the United States.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.