Gov. Brian Kemp needs to enact common-sense gun control in Georgia – The Augusta Chronicle


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Jack Bernard
 |  Columnist


This is a column by Jack Bernard, the former director of Georgia's Office of Health Planning. He has been on the boards of health for two Georgia counties.

“It makes no sense to me, to throw out appropriate and lawful concealed-carry laws ... We will never end the scourge of gun violence by allowing more people to carry more firearms in more places.”

- Gerald E. Harmon, MD, President of the AMA 

The "Georgia Constitutional Carry Act of 2021" (SB 319) was sponsored by Senator Harbin of Tyrone, who brags about his NRA “A” rating. Designed to eliminate the license now required to carry a gun in public, SB 319 was recently passed and signed into law by Governor Kemp. The real question is: “With all the gun violence out there now, why is Georgia passing a law to make carrying guns easier?"

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Dr. Harmon, head of the AMA, and I are both gun owners. And, the American Medical Association has never been known to be a left-wing rabble-rousing socialist organization.

However, as  Dr. Harmon stated recently, you can support the Second Amendment without making it more likely that gun violence will occur. Per Harmon, the AMA supports “expanded background checks for handgun purchases, waiting periods for firearms, and tighter enforcement of state and federal gun-safety laws.” And the facts support the AMA’s position. 

So, why is Georgia going in the opposite direction? The answer is tribalistic right-wing politics, exacerbating the pre-existing problems that it supposedly is going to ameliorate.

Governor Kemp is a life-long conservative who is afraid of losing his job in 2024 to Stacey Abrams (who would have beat him last time had Kemp not purged hundreds of thousands of disproportionately minority voters from the rolls). So, he has been pushing the loosening gun control bills to gain conservative support. 

Let’s be clear, having more guns doesn’t make you safer. Neither does carrying them around. On the national level, the majority of Americans agree. Only 9% of Americans want gun controls loosened, whereas 57% want them increased. And 61% are concerned about the availability of firearms.  

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And, the prevalence of guns means more gun deaths, not less. The 5 most “gun-friendly” states are Arizona; Idaho; Alaska; Kansas; and Oklahoma. According to the CDC, their per capita rates of gun deaths per 100,000 people are 15.1, 14.2, 24.4, 13.7 and 18.6, respectively. All of these states have a firearm mortality rate that is higher than the national average of 11.9.

Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island are the states with the lowest mortality rates. Four out of these five states have the toughest gun laws in the nation. 

Gun rights advocates (like Texas Senator Ted Cruz after the Uvalde tragedy) state that the “only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.” I believe he is right and we agree.

But why are mentally unstable 18-year-olds buying military-type weapons in Texas? Only cops should be toting semi-automatic guns around. We never would have had all those children shot if he did not have an AR-15. 

So, Governor Kemp, why won’t you help us to prevent the bad guys from buying guns via thorough background checks and restrictions on kids buying guns? Do this instead of going the wrong direction and making it even easier for them to bring guns into public areas. Let’s leave carrying guns in public to the good men in law enforcement. 

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