Georgia’s House Bill 2, which would reduce the state’s firearm restrictions, is an irresponsible reform that would endanger people state-wide.
The Georgia legislature is considering the Kemp-backed bill, led by state Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger), which would end licensing requirements for guns. The bill’s proposed “constitutional carry” measure would mean individuals could carry a gun without undergoing a background check. While Georgia will still require background checks before some gun purchases, removing the licensure process for carrying guns would allow some individuals to buy and carry without ever undergoing a background check. The bill would also repeal restrictions on carrying a handgun in parks, historic sites or recreational areas.
Constitutional carry removes important safeguards designed to ensure those who carry handguns have some level of knowledge and responsibility. Abolishing the requirement for a mandatory background check removes a measure of accountability which comes at minimal inconvenience to those obtaining a permit. Other states that have passed constitutional carry have seen increased gun violence — Arizona, for example, has experienced a 39 percent increase in firearm-related aggravated assaults since it enacted permitless carry legislation in 2010.
Gurtler claims the bill is not that radical because Georgia would still offer permits for gun owners to abide by gun laws in states which do not allow permitless carry. It’s not the first time Gurtler has pursued constitutional carry, as he pushed unsuccessfully for the same legislation in 2017.
In the past, Gurtler also introduced legislation for Georgia school districts to arm teachers and school staff — legislation that did not receive a single vote. However, Kemp’s support renders Gurtler’s House Bill 2 much more threatening.
At a fundamental level, the term constitutional carry is a misnomer. All constitutional rights, including the right to bear arms, are subject to rational, measured restrictions, limitations which have repeatedly been upheld by the Supreme Court. It should be illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. A background check is a small price to pay to ensure those carrying weapons are doing so legally and responsibly.
Gurtler’s bill represents a reckless, irresponsible interpretation of the Second Amendment that serves to exacerbate our country’s gun violence epidemic, and reasonable citizens should oppose it.
The Editorial Board is composed of Zach Ball, Jacob Busch, Ryan Fan, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Omar Obregon-Cuebas, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois, Madison Stephens and Kimia Tabatabaei.