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Georgia's 'no permit needed' gun bill gets first hearing

"Constitutional carry" gets election year push under the Gold Dome.

ATLANTA — Georgia might eliminate the need for a permit to conceal and carry a gun. The Senate Committee on Judiciary has already recommended that the bill pass.

The idea got its first response at a hearing at the Capitol on Tuesday as lawmakers discussed proposed legislation that focuses on what gun enthusiasts call constitutional carry. The election-year bill would make it easier to carry a concealed weapon in Georgia.

"There are worries this would put new guns and weapons on the street," Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a Republican lawmaker who represents Paulding, Polk and Haralson counties said. "That’s patently false."

However, other lawmakers continued to express concern as the bill was read during committee.

"So there's no barrier to carry under this law," Sen. Harold Jones, the Democratic Whip said.

Jones, who represents parts of Richmond County, questioned what doing away with a concealed weapon permit would do.

For now, those who want a permit must apply through their county's probate court. People must fill out an application, submit to a background check and pay a fee of about $70. The bill would eliminate much of that process.

However, it would still be illegal for convicted felons to carry weapons as well as anybody adjudicated to have a mental illness.

"By going to permit-less carry I don’t see any difference," Rep. Alan Powell, a Republican who represents Franklin County, Hart County and a portion of Madison County said.

According to CNN, 20 states have permit-less gun carry laws, five of them were enacted just last year.

Backers like Powell said the law would still restrict who can carry a concealed weapon.

"You can still carry today, a long gun," Powell said. "You can carry that weapon anywhere you want to, so what’s the difference in a long gun or a short gun?"

Despite points made during committee, critics said the bill would end an important check on who can carry.

"Arizona did it in 2010, aggravated assaults went up," said Sen. Elena Parent, a Democrat who represents portions of central and north DeKalb County.

On Tuesday, the committee heard the Senate’s version of the constitutional carry bill where 31 of the 56 senators – all of them Republicans, co-sponsored the bill. That math showed a good chance of passing the Senate and one step closer to becoming law.

At 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Georgia Senate Press Office announced that the Senate Committee now recommends the bill pass.


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