FILE - Gun show rifles weapons

A group of Georgia lawmakers is calling on the legislature to approve more restrictive gun laws in the wake of two mass shootings last weekend.

State Reps. Dar’Shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia, Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, Sandra Scott, D-Rex, and Derrick Jackson, D-Tyrone and members of the Millennial Civil Rights Campaign met on the steps of the state Capitol building Thursday to demand change in response to the double mass shootings that took place in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas that killed 31 people.

“Because of how our gun laws are in the nation and in this state, either one of those tragedies could have taken place right here in the state of Georgia,”  Kendrick said. “So I make an appeal now to my colleagues in the House and the Senate as well as to Gov. [Brian] Kemp, who might be watching or seeing our words today.”

Georgia is known for being a gun-friendly state, but Kendrick said stricter gun control laws can be enacted without violating the Second Amendment rights of Georgians.

Democratic lawmakers filed a host of gun control reform bills in the 2019 legislation session. The proposals included a training requirement for concealed weapons licenses; a ban on guns on school campuses and other public institutions; and retaining records after five years for people who were involuntary hospitalized. None of the bills made it to the second chamber of the Georgia General Assembly.

Cannon wants lawmakers to take a second look at House Bill 970, which was proposed in the 2017-2018 legislation session. The bill bans the use of long guns in an area where there is a group of two or more people in public. The bill never made it to the House floor for a vote.

Republican lawmakers pushed for looser restrictions in the 2019 session.

Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, proposed House Bill 2 that would eliminate the permit requirements for a person who is legally approved to carry a gun in public. It also would eliminate bans on long guns in state parks, historic sites or recreational areas.

The Center Square reached out to Gurtler, but he was not immediately available for comment.

Most Georgians (about 84 percent) think the state should continue to require permits to carry a gun, according to a SurveyUSA poll taken three months after the Parkland massacre. About 72 percent think the minimum age to own a handgun should be changed from 18 to 21. More than half support banning assault-style rifles, which were used in the weekend massacres.

Jackson, a retired naval officer, said assault-style rifles should be reserved for war and the state needs to impose background checks for all gun buyers.

“It is designed to do one thing – kill people,” Jackson said. “It is not designed to go hunting. We do not need them on our streets. In fact, law enforcement does not want them on our streets. Hunters do not even use these assault weapons for hunting.”

Staff Writer

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.