Gun safety advocates at the Georgia Capitol

A crowd of gun safety advocates stood behind Democratic lawmakers as they called on Gov. Brian Kemp to convene a special session to address gun violence.

Credit: Sarah Kallis / GPB News

Georgia Democrats are calling for Gov. Brian Kemp to convene special session after a May 3 shooting in an Atlanta medical facility killed one woman and wounded four others.

"We cannot, should not live like this," House Minority Leader James Beverly said. "The epidemic of gun violence affects us all. Parents send their children to school every morning with a pit in their stomach. Too many people have gone to churches, spas, doctor's offices, grocery stores, malls, parks, concerts and never returned home due to senseless gun violence."

Beverly emphasized that both parties need to come to the table to address gun safety laws.

“It's time for us to put politics aside and lead to protect the lives of all lives of all Georgians," he said. "I say to the Republican leadership who currently control the state House, the state Senate, and the governor's mansion: Lead. Don't hide."

House Minority Whip Sam Park says the Democrats have asked for the session in a letter to Kemp who, so far, has not responded.

Sen. Elena Parent, who chairs the Georgia Senate Democrats, said her party is looking to their Republican colleagues to help move the issue forward.

"We do not need every Republican elected in this General Assembly to come to the table," Parent said. "But we need enough to penetrate the barrier of the majority."

A crowd of gun safety advocates stood behind the lawmakers at the news conference at the Capitol. The crowd chanted "now, now, now," calling for more gun regulations. 

Democrats filed several bills during the last legislative session addressing gun safety, including mandatory waiting periods and universal background checks for purchasing weapons. No bills were voted on. Only one bill, House Bill 161, which addressed gun storage in homes with children, was heard in committee. 

Janet Paulsen spoke at the podium about her personal experiences. She survived being shot by her ex-husband in 2015 and was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2020 to serve on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. She hopes more gun laws can prevent deaths and injuries like her own.

"Bullets don't care what side of the aisle you sit on," she said.

GPB has reached out for comment from Gov. Kemp's office and has not received a response.