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Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024
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Mercer Police officers wary Kemp's proposed constitutional carry bill could "put us backwards"

Governor Brian Kemp is facing criticism after he announced his support for a proposal concerning ‘constitutional carry’ legislation. As per Fox5Atlanta, the reform would remove the need for a weapons’ carry permit within the state of Georgia. Currently, a "Weapons Carry Licence" is required to publicly carry a concealed weapon.

Earlier this month, Kemp voiced his support for the proposal.

"I believe the United States Constitution grants the citizens of our state the right to carry a firearm without state government approval," Kemp said.

Speaking to the Chief of Mercer University Police, Gary Collins, there was clear concern regarding the proposed reform.

“You know, I believe in the Second Amendment, but I do believe there should be some restrictions placed on people carrying," Collins said. "There are a lot of people out there carrying guns now, no license whatsoever, no background checks, you know, just any and everybody, could have a gun."

Lieutenant Gary Mills echoed this sentiment, arguing his support for the current restrictions in place in relation to their work on campus.

“I think what we've got in place now, it works for us," Mills said. "I think if it changed without restrictions, I think it could put us backward."

Collins, who has been at Mercer Police for 38 years, summed up his point of view:

“People need to unite, pull together, they don't need to go solo, split up and divide," Mills said. "You've got a bunch that would like no restrictions. But my personal opinion, there should be restrictions in place for gun carry.”

As per a study conducted by the RAND Corporation in April 2020, an estimated 49.2% of Georgians live in a home housing a gun.

This statistic would likely be set to rise if the constitutional carry proposal was carried out, as access to firearms would become easier than ever.

Grace Hamilton, a senior at Mercer University, was particularly concerned about how the proposal would affect the safety of students. Hamilton, a political science and history major, lives off-campus, so she is living outside the protection of Mercer Police.

“I would agree that it's not a good form of progress, that it may endanger people and again, I don't see the logic of no restrictions whatsoever on guns," Hamilton said. "Even driving, you have to pass a driving permit to be able to drive a car and like guns are just as dangerous as cars if not more. Why would you not want that safety guarantee procedure?"

Hamilton also discussed her worries regarding the potential impact this proposal could have on the female population locally.

“Also, as a woman, it does concern me because women are affected by violent crimes a lot more than men typically. Especially like, sexually motivated crimes, and I know there are a lot of assaults in the community on women like domestic violence, sexual assaults," she said.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, "more than 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact at some point in their lives."

"I guess there are two sides to the coin," Hamilton said. "It would allow women easier access to carry to defend themselves, but it would also allow men or people perpetrating these crimes, to have an easier access to harm someone and more of a legal defense.”

Despite clear concerns regarding the nature of this proposal, the effort being placed behind this proposal, from Governor Kemp and others, does not look set to disintegrate.

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