As Georgia gun sales surge in Georgia due to worries over the coronavirus, Georgia state Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, wants to make sure people can carry weapons -- concealed or open -- without fear of arrest.
"It's imperative that we suspend the enforcement of those weapons licenses," Gurtler said.
The power to suspend the licenses would come from Gov. Brian Kemp. Under the current public health state of emergency, the governor can override state laws.
The Georgia General Assembly approved the executive order at a special called legislative session on March 16.
"We need to suspend enforcement especially during the state of emergency, when so many individuals need to be able to defend themselves and their families and their loved ones and their property," Gurtler said.
The conservative Republican said his constituents are looking to the second amendment of the U. S. Constitution for guidance on their rights.
"It (the Second Amendment) says shall not be infringed, and we believe that is a no-compromise statement," Gurtler said.
But, Democratic Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, thinks Gurtler is grandstanding. She does not believe the state needs to suspend enforcement of weapons licenses because Georgia already has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country.
"The fact that we've seen a spike in sales of guns and ammunition underscores just how wrong Gurtler is (about the need to suspend weapons license requirements)," Jordan said.
Georgia law requires anyone seeking open weapon permits to request them in person in the counties where they live. Many of those offices are closed right now.
"Gun groups like the NRA that are preying on people's fears, that people can't exercise their second amendment right. None of that is true," Jordan said.
Gurtler's push to do away with mandatory licensing to carry a concealed gun is not new.
Gurtler is the lead sponsor of legislation to make concealed weapons permits optional. He pre-filed HB 2, which he named the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act, in late 2018. but the bill has had no movement in the House so far in the now suspended 2020 legislative session.
"I'm glad to have Governor's Kemp's support," Gurtler said. "He said he was committed to signing it."
But the bill has had no movement in the House so far in the 2020 legislative session.