Today, Georgia Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders held a press conference raising concerns about the growing threat of gun violence. Speakers discussed concerns about Brian Kemp’s new permit-less carry law, which threatens public safety and increases the risk of gun violence in Georgia.
Download a recording of the press conference here.
“Today, again, we’re talking about the very American epidemic of gun violence. Sometimes, it feels like it never stops. It’s barely been a year since we were mourning our own home-grown tragedy, when, on March 16, 2021, another gunman, who purchased his firearm that same morning, murdered 8 people in a rampage that rocked the nation’s Asian American community to its core,” said State Senator Dr. Michelle Au. “And it’s fair to ask, in the wake of that tragedy, how our state leadership has responded. Despite Georgia Democrats dropping a number of common sense gun safety bills since 2021, including bills regarding universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods, and safe storage laws, the GOP-majority legislature and Governor Kemp have not lifted a finger to make our communities safer from gun violence. Not only that — this year Governor Kemp actively pushed, as his flagship piece of legislation, a bill removing all restrictions from carrying loaded weapons in public. Which leads me to ask: is the governor truly that out of sync with what the vast majority of people of Georgia want? Or is it that he just doesn’t care?”
“In just the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo that left 10 people dead and a tragic, heartbreaking mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas that left 19 little children and 2 teachers dead. Just like the evil we saw days ago on display in Buffalo and Uvalde, we’ve witnessed that same evil right here in the Atlanta area — Georgia’s AAPI community understands the dangers of gun violence and the urgent need to keep guns away from those who shouldn’t be carrying deadly weapons,” shared State Representative Sam Park. “Instead of honoring those victims by doing everything possible to try and ensure nothing similar happens again, Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans have decided to make it even easier for criminals to carry weapons of war in public. Kemp’s extreme permit-less carry law is alarming and poses great risk to the safety of Georgia families and communities. No election is worth more than our lives, and Georgians deserve better than someone whose proven he has no problem risking our safety to win an election. Brian Kemp has failed us — and proven himself unfit for the office of governor.
“My daughter graduated from 5th grade yesterday, and I was asking her what her biggest fears were going to middle school. She mentioned grades, homework, boys, and a random gunman shooting,” stated Kannan Udayarajan, State Committee Member, Democratic Party of Georgia. “This is why it is important to ask: why did Brian Kemp push so hard to pass permitless carry? And more importantly, what is he enabling through this policy when our children are scared on a daily basis? Children are losing faith in our ability to keep them safe. And we are all losing faith in our governor’s ability to prioritize his citizens’ safety over politics. And this concern is shared not just by members of the AAPI community, but by a vast majority of Georgians. Our children, our communities, and Georgia deserve a governor who will put their safety over politics.”
“Gun violence is a personal issue for me. Gun violence is the reason my mother and 7 other victims are not here with us today to enjoy their lives and families. The gunman who murdered my mother was able to obtain a gun the same day he decided to carry out his crime across two counties in Georgia. During that time, Brian Kemp said he cared about our community and he offered his thoughts and prayers, but no action,” shared Robert Peterson, whose mother, Yong Ae Yue, was murdered in the March 2021 mass shooting targeting Asian American women. “And as gun violence is rising across the country and in Georgia, it’s an absolute necessity and paramount to our safety that we ensure there are checks and accountability when it comes to who is carrying firearms. Brian Kemp’s permit-less carry law weakens Georgia’s systems of accountability and makes us all less safe. To put it simply, Kemp has put communities at risk by allowing people to bypass that crucial check and carry deadly weapons out in public. Permit-less carry is moving Georgia backwards on gun safety.”
“I’m a gun owner and I’m a hunter — furthermore, I support our rights to own a firearm. But I also support common sense gun control and gun safety. The young man who executed my daughter’s mother and 7 other innocent people did so within hours of purchasing a gun here in Georgia. The young man who killed 21 people in Texas did so after purchasing two assault rifles within days of his 18th birthday,” said Michael Webb, husband of Xiaojie Tan, who was murdered in the March 2021 mass shooting targeting Asian American women. “Now, I’m not a liberal or a Democrat — I’m just a father, grandfather, and victim of gun violence. In 1999, I received a call that my 18-year-old son committed suicide. He killed himself with a loaded shotgun that was carelessly stored in plain sight by his grandparents. Imagine for a moment what parents of those 19 little school children in Texas are going through right now — we cannot remain silent just because the vocal minority will attempt to drown out those of us who speak out about guns. Stop already with the moments of silence and the thoughts and prayers after each massacre. Governor Kemp, Georgia leaders, do something — quit making this political. Stop trading lives for votes.”
Background on Permit-less Carry:
Opposed by Law Enforcement: Permit-less carry has caused major concern among Georgia law enforcement, including in Savannah, Macon, and Columbus, who warn that “it would probably cause an increase in gun crimes” and put law enforcement officials in “uncharted waters.” The initiative has also faced opposition from law enforcement officers across the nation in Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Concerns from Local Leaders: 7 mayors from across Georgia also sent Brian Kemp a letter ahead of the “criminal carry” bill signing to share concerns from their communities – including local law enforcement – and ask Kemp to reconsider his support for the bill. Watch coverage from WTVM (Columbus), WALB (Albany), and WSAV (Savannah).
New Loophole: The dangerous new law creates a new loophole by eliminating part of the background check process which anyone wanting to carry a concealed firearm currently must undergo. This law’s change will make it easier for individuals with a criminal history who purchased a gun through a private sale – which is not subject to a background check – to carry a weapon in our communities without any background check. The existing permit process prevented over 5,200 applicants from obtaining firearm carry licenses in 2020 — the majority of those denials were due to prior criminal records, outstanding arrests, mental health flags, or domestic violence charges.
Proven Danger: States that have weakened their firearm permitting system saw up to a 15% increase in violent crime. Georgia already has the 17th highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, and its rate of gun deaths increased 41% from 2011 to 2020.
Majority Opposition: About 70% of Georgians are opposed to permit-less carry. Over 80% of gun owners, non-gun owners, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents across the nation agree that high safety standards are crucial in issuing concealed carry permits: