Georgia ranks 47th in the country for gun law strength, with only Idaho, Arkanasas, and Mississippi having weaker gun laws. Georgians have spoken out about this issue numerous times, even across party lines. In 2023, a bi-partisan coalition of 45 mayors called for change.
Republicans in the Georgia legislature refuse to listen and continue to make guns easier to attain. There is currently no waiting period for guns, permits are not required, guns do not have to be registered, there is no required firearm training, and college campuses are required to permit firearms. In 2023, the United States experienced 520 mass shootings. It is time for change, and it is hard to imagine that our Republican legislators are going to institute the reforms we need.
To strengthen gun safety in Georgia, Democrats in the State Legislature have introduced a bill to have the Shoot First law removed. As the law currently stands, gun owners are safe from prosecution if they shoot in public as long as they believe there is a dangerous situation arising, even if there is an option to remove oneself from the situation in a non-lethal manner. Republicans and gun groups stand firmly opposed, despite the fact that this law has led to multiple property owners shooting innocent people after misunderstanding situations.
Georgians across the political spectrum also want the state to increase gun tracking. Georgia does not currently trace all guns at crime scenes, so guns obtained illegally are often not caught in investigations. Further, we have serious gaps in gun laws when it comes to instances of hate crimes and domestic abuse, allowing people to keep their guns even after a conviction. Finally, Georgia gun laws do not put limits on the type of gun an individual can carry. AR-style guns and semi-automatic rifles are available for anyone looking to purchase a gun.
Georgia has the 17th highest death rate in the country for guns, as 14.8 people die from gun violence out of every 100,000. 57% of gun deaths are suicides, in part because there is no waiting period in Georgia that allows for a “calm-down” for those seeking guns. Over the past two decades, states with the strongest gun safety laws, including “calm down” periods, saw gun suicide rates decrease, while states with weaker laws like Georgia’s, saw a 39 percent increase. On average, 133 children and teens die by guns annually, but Georgia still continues to allow people to carry in K-12 schools, on university campuses, in libraries and many other public spaces.
Georgians won’t be safe until we have lawmakers who understand gun violence for the public health crisis that it is. Georgia Republicans look the other way time and time again, shooting after shooting. The 2030 Project is committed to building a majority in the state legislature who won’t stand idly by while innocent Georgians continue to die from preventable gun violence.