With the 2014 legislative session only five months away, Second Amendment advocates are preparing to pressure lawmakers to expand gun rights in Georgia.
The gun rights group Georgia Carry started its two-day annual convention Friday in Cobb County.
The group formed in 2007 with the mission of changing Georgia’s laws to ease restrictions on where licensed gun owners can carry their weapons.
During the 2013 legislative session, Georgia Carry was one of the driving forces behind a large gun bill that would have extended open carry to several new places. Those locations included bars, school campuses, places of worship and some government buildings.
“We’re going to try to push for everything again,” said Jerry Henry, Executive Director of GeorgiaCarry.org. “You know, you always ask for everything you [can] get and then you take what you get from them.”
One of the ways the organization plans to advance the legislation is to educate its members on lobbying. One lawmaker who sponsored the bill, Rep. Alan Powell, (R) Hartwell, is hosting a “Lobbying and Grassroots Advocacy” seminar Saturday as part of the convention.
“We will try to change the laws and we’ll to continue to do so until we feel like we are able to defend ourselves anywhere we go,” Henry explained.
Outside the Cobb Gallery, an opposition group expressed concerns about Rep. Powell participating in the events. The newly-formed Georgia Gun Sense Coalition held a brief news conference and marched to the Renaissance Waverly Hotel to hand out gun safety information outside the convention.
“Georgia Carry is a lobbying group and they have worked very hard to push legislation like this for many years,” said Kathryn Grant, head of Georgia Gun Sense Coalition. “Considering [Powell] is the Chairman of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, the very body that is tasked to review legislation that is concerning public safety and welfare, it seems extraordinary to me that he would also be participating in this conference and conducting a seminar in essence, on lobbying and grassroots advocacy.”
Grant said despite that issue, her group’s main focus is to educate Georgians about upcoming gun legislation.
“So, I’m not concerned about what Georgia Carry will do,” Grant explained. “What my hope is, is that we as a community, as citizens, as members of a democracy exercise our right to vote and become more engaged in this issue and debate this issue publicly and not have the debate remain within the confines of the Georgia General Assembly.”
Henry said about 250 people had registered to participate in this weekend’s convention. Many of them will openly carry guns throughout the events.