ATLANTA -- Per a statement released from his campaign, here's Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's current position on "constitutional carry," which would eliminate the need for conceal / carry handgun permits in Georgia. Cagle is the GOP front runner in the race for governor.

“I would support a smarter approach to eliminating the permit requirement for law-abiding gun owners, or Constitutional Carry. If we want to go that way, we absolutely need a system that prevents illegal aliens, convicted felons, and people with severe mental illness from carrying guns in our communities. With those protections, we can do it.” - Casey Cagle

That's different from what he had weeks ago. Here's what Cagle told 11Alive News in an interview April 23.

Q: Are you in favor of constitutional carry, which would allow people to carry weapons without a permit?

Cagle: Well clearly, I mean you look at my record on the second amendment, I’ve been the only candidate that’s endorsed by the NRA. And I’m a staunch defender of the second amendment and the right to bear arms. But on the same token, with all that being said, the legislature will have to act on a constitutional carry if they so choose. But within that context it is important we recognize there are individuals that have mental illnesses. And we have to have the safeguards in place there so we don’t have individuals carrying guns that are going to do horrific acts like we've seen certainly in Florida and other places.

MORE | How Cagle's position changed on gun carry permits

Q: So is that (safeguard) in permitting? Or is that in gun sales (background checks)?

Cagle: It really is a combination, right? So the background checks that occur, obviously the mental health component is critically important, in the background but also in terms of the gun sales as well. And those that have it – the permitting process is one that does look at what that mental background, or at an individual. So we’ll have further conversations about that.

Q: Do you favor adjusting the permitting process or eliminating the permitting process?

Cagle: No I think that you have to have a vetting process to ensure that individuals can pass a background check, that do not have a mental illness. Those issues have really been the law of the state. I think it’s important.

Q: Are there any further expansions of gun rights that you think need to happen?

Cagle: Not in my opinion, no.

Q: Any (new) restrictions on gun rights?

Cagle: Well, no no. I think we’re in a great – I misunderstood your initial question.

Q: No that’s what I was talking about –

Cagle: I do feel like Georgia is in a very good position in terms of where our gun laws sit today. And we respect both property rights but also that second amendment right. And I think that when you have that good balance that assures that law abiding citizens have the right to bear arms, and for many it’s a safety issue but here in the south it’s also something we enjoy in terms of the ability to use in hunting and things of that nature.

Q: So I understand – maybe I don’t understand so good sometimes. So you’re not in favor of eliminating permits obviously to carry sidearms.

Cagle: No.

Q: Are there any other expansions – you know, campus carry became an issue a couple of years ago. A lot of people obviously thought that was a great idea. Are there any other expansions that you think need to happen?

Cagle: I’m unaware of any specific areas by which we would be looking to expand. Obviously as governor, the legislature has to act on things like that. And you know, we would be open to looking at areas that may be of concern that need to be resolved. I am a person who wants to find out, first of all, what is the problem we’re trying to solve, and how do we do that without unintended consequences.

Q: What about raising the age of people who are allowed to buy guns?

Cagle: I am – I do not see the merit by which Georgia needs to move in this direction. A person who goes into the military has the ability to have a gun. I don’t think taking guns away from people are going to fundamentally solve these issues. So no.

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