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'I was kind of surprised': Central Georgia law enforcement reacts to Kemp's intent to loosen handgun carry rules

If you have a clean, criminal record, the governor believes the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to openly carry a gun in public.

MACON, Ga. — With another campaign season just around the corner, Governor Brian Kemp announced his intent to expand Second Amendment rights to Georgians.

We spent the evening getting reaction from local law enforcement leaders.

Governor Brian Kemp says this year, he will push legislature efforts to allow gun owners to carry their weapons publicly without a license.

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

Wednesday morning, the governor appeared in a Smyrna Outdoors store with members of the National Rifle Association. Together, they launched a campaign for "Constitutional Carry," meaning if you have a clean, criminal record, the governor believes the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to openly carry a gun in public. Byron Chief of Police Wesley Cannon supports the idea.

"I don't believe guns commit crimes, I believe people do, and good law-abiding citizens are not going to hurt me, it's the bad guys. They could care less whether there is a law that they have to have a permit or not, they are going to carry a gun and commit crimes until they are stopped," Cannon said.

Macon-Bibb County's Colonel Henderson Carswell disagrees.

"We don't have a problem with people carrying guns. It's when guns are in the hands of people who are not supposed to have guns. I was kind of surprised, because with gun violence stuff, I thought we'd be going in the other direction for gun laws. Personally speaking and professionally speaking, I thought we'd be going in the other direction, but wherever it goes, we will deal with it," Carswell said.

"Laws against people owning or carrying guns do not, nor will they ever, prevent crimes," Cannon said.

The governor also announced the National Rifle Association meeting in 2025 will be held in Atlanta.

Governor Kemp also said they are already filing bills for the upcoming legislative session to try to make "constitutional carry" law.

According to the Giffords Law Center, right now, there are 21 states which do not require permits for the open or concealed carry of firearms. Texas was the last state to go permit-less, which happened back in September. Five other states also passed similar laws, in 2021, including: Utah, Montana, and Tennessee, among others.

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