Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (C) signed legislation on Tuesday to allow people to conceal carry in the state without a license. Photo courtesy of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp/Twitter
April 13 (UPI) -- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has signed legislation to allow residents to carry a concealed gun in public without a license, making it the 25 state to do away with firearm requirement.
The Republican governor signed Senate Bill 319, better know as the Constitutional Carry Act, Tuesday outside of a sporting goods store in Douglasville, near Atlanta, where he said he bought his daughter Lucy her first firearm, a Glock 43X 9mm.
"Senate Bill 319 makes sure law-abiding Georgians -- law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters, and your family, too -- can protect themselves without having to have permission from your state government," Kemp, who campaigned on passing such legislation in 2018, said during the press conference. "The Constitution of the United States gives us that right, not the government."
State Sen. Jason Anavitarte called Tuesday a history day and a victory for safety, security and constitutional rights in Georgia.
"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," he said. "This bill protects every Georgians' right to keep and bear arms while maintaining the protections that ensure our legal law aiding citizens can carry a firearm in the state of Georgia."
The signing ceremony was held after the bill passed the state's Senate 34-22 early this month and the House 100-67 late last month.
Opponents of the bill have argued that it creates a legal loophole to allow some residents convicted of crimes to carry concealed weapons in public, with the Georgia Democratic Party budding the S.B. 319 the "criminal carry" legislation.
Ahead of the bill's signing, Georgia Democrats held their own press conference in opposition to the act.
"By signing this into law, Kemp is ignoring warnings from law enforcement and actually making it easier for criminals to carry hidden, loaded guns in public," state Rep. Kimberly Alexander said. "'Criminal carry' puts our communities, our neighbors, our loved ones and all Georgias at risk."
Following the signing, the gun lobby National Rifle Association thanked its members for their work in support for such bills, stating that nine states have passed conceal carry bills since President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
"Half the country down, half to go," it tweeted.
Kemp on Tuesday also signed House Bill 218 to allow people from outside Georgia to be armed while visiting as long as they are licensed in their home state.