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Mayor Girtz, Georgia mayors push back against permitless carry law

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Ahead of Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of a bill that allows Georgians to carry concealed handguns in public without a permit, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz joined 6 other Georgia mayors in pushing back against the new law.

In a letter addressed to Kemp, the mayors share their concerns about the measure, arguing it creates a loophole that makes it easier for people with a criminal history to carry a weapon in public. They note that over 5,000 applications for permits to carry a concealed weapon in public were denied in 2020 due to criminal records, history of domestic violence, outstanding arrest warrants, or mental health reasons.

Because Georgia’s law allows the purchase of guns without a background check through private sales, opponents of the new law say that the application process for a carry permit was often the first time many gun owners encountered a background check.

The mayors also cite concerns from law enforcement officials about public safety, and they highlight an Atlanta-Journal Constitution poll that says nearly 70 percent of Georgians oppose the new law.

Second amendment activists support the new law saying it does away with unnecessary paperwork for individuals already legally able to own a gun.

The new law was a major campaign promise for Kemp, who faces a primary challenge from former Senator David Perdue.

The letter was signed by Kevin Brown of Buena Vista; Joyce Denson of Toomsboro; John Ernst of Brookhaven; Kelly Girtz of Athens-Clarke; Bobby Jenkins of Cuthbert; Van Johnson of Savannah; and Vince Williams of Union City.

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