Under the act, Georgia residents can carry a concealed firearm without first obtaining a license. However, this right will not extend to people who have been convicted of a felony or treated for certain mental health problems in the last five years.
Lawmakers who pushed for the act said requiring a carry permit, which costs around $75, infringes on Americans' Second Amendment gun rights. In addition, they cited the delays in obtaining permits that were seen in some counties during the pandemic as another obstacle to people exercising their rights.
One sponsor of the bill, Georgia State Republican Senator Jason Anavitarte, said of the signing: “Today was a victory for the safety, security and constitutional rights of hardworking Georgians. This bill is about self-protection and self-empowerment. It’s about disincentivizing criminals and empowering law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families.”
At a signing ceremony, Governor Kemp said the new law gives Georgians the power to protect themselves without needing permission from their state’s government. He said: "SB 319 makes sure that law-abiding Georgians — law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters and your family too — can protect themselves without having the permission of the state government. The Constitution of the United States gives us that right, not the government,"
With the move, Georgia has become the nation’s 25th state to not require a permit for carrying concealed firearms for legal gun owners. Kemp also signed a second measure giving holders of concealed weapons permits from other states the right to legally carry in Georgia as well.
Guns will still be prohibited in locations such as secured areas of airports or government buildings with security at the entrance, such as the state Capitol.
Supporters believe the measure will help people protect themselves as crime continues to rise throughout the nation; criminals might hesitate to act because they won’t know if a potential victim could be carrying a weapon.
The governor signed the bill at a gun store in Douglasville where he and his wife bought a Glock 9mm for their daughter several years ago.
Speaking to reporters after the signing, Kemp said: "This simply allows you not to have to get a piece of paper to legally carry. And look, the criminals are getting the guns anyway."
National Rifle Association Chairman Wayne LaPierre praised the decision, telling Fox News: "The success of the carry movement in America cannot be denied at this point. When Gov. Brian Kemp signs this landmark legislation, half of America will protect the right to carry as an inherent and inalienable right."
He added that the divide between Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country is clear, with many states passing laws to protect people’s self-defense rights while “the Biden administration fails to prosecute criminals and tries to enact gun control schemes and undermine self-defense laws.”
“In essence, they’re overprotecting and indulging criminals while penalizing good Americans," he said.
In the past two years alone, Ohio, Tennessee, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Iowa, Alabama, Indiana, and Texas have all passed constitutional carry laws.
Georgia Democrats held a rally opposing the bill, which they claim puts people in danger as mass shootings around the country increase, including a shooting in a New York City subway that injured at least 23 people on the same day that the law was passed. Some used the occasion to call for Kemp to be defeated in the upcoming elections. However, many Georgians celebrated the new law for ensuring citizens' rights to protect themselves in public.