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As we close in on Sine Die for this year’s legislative session, one notable issue that got scant attention from either side (with one committee hearing exception) was gun rights.

After passing permitless carry last year (making it legal to carry a concealed handgun without a permit), no gun legislation will make it to a full floor vote this year. House Bill 161, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, did receive a hearing in committee but it failed to move further. The bill is titled the ‘Pediatric Health Safe Storage Act’ and Au claims it is the first piece of gun safety legislation to get a hearing in the last six years.

Au points out that 23 states have adopted safe storage laws, including famously conservative Texas and Florida, but Georgia is not among them. “If we pass HB 161, we could change that, and help create a broadly understood standard of gun safety that could mitigate preventable injury and death of children,” said Rep. Au.

In the still Republican-dominated General Assembly though, chances of passage approached zero so the bill did not attract much attention from the state’s Second Amendment advocates.

Jerry Henry is the executive director of GA2A, Georgia 2nd Amendment, and is one of the state’s biggest voices for gun rights. Henry has been the executive director of what was formerly known as GeorgiaCarry.Org (GCO) since 2009. Henry is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy and is keenly attuned to any gun legislation that arises in the General Assembly.

“There is no legislation that will pass this year that we either support or oppose. There are bills that have been introduced this year which have a good chance of passing next year but did not receive a hearing due, as we were told, to fatigue from passing the permit less carry bill last year,” Henry told InsiderAdvantage. “We believe that to be a weak position when, in reality, gun bills are rarely passed during the first year of the session as it is not an election year. Next year, they will need us and we expect to see more action on gun bills.”

According to Henry, the gun issue is like a number of issues that parties use to juice their bases during election years. It’s not that the parties or those in elected office don’t believe in the legislation but that they might strategically schedule when certain pieces of legislation are passed so as to maximize the enthusiasm that accompanies the bills. And in certain cases, if legislation could be controversial, the extra support from those paying attention during an election year might help to push it over the top.


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