Georgia 2018: Cagle backtracks on constitutional carry

Days after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told a news station he opposed a "constitutional carry" law, his campaign sent out a lengthy statement to supporters that he supports the law that would let gun owners conceal and carry handguns without a permit.

The Republican's campaign won't say he misspoke when he told 11Alive's Doug Richards that he was against the policy. Instead, it said it wants to clarify "inaccurate information" on social media about his stance.

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In a lengthy statement issued by his campaign manager, Cagle said he backs constitutional carry but wants an “effective process” to prevent convicted felons, people in the country illegally and mentally ill gun owners from carrying weapons.

He also wants to keep an optional permit in place for people who want to travel out of state with their weapons.

Cagle and his rivals for the GOP nomination for governor have feuded for months over their pro-gun chops, but the heat is intensifying as the May 22 primary approaches. The latest AJC poll shows Cagle has a commanding lead over his rivals and a tight race for the second spot in a likely July runoff.

He earned the NRA's endorsement earlier this month partly because he engineered the vote to strip a lucrative tax break for Delta Air Lines after the Atlanta-based company cut ties with the pro-gun group.

His rivals have tried to paint him as squishy on gun rights; Secretary of State Brian Kemp publicly warned the NRA it was "getting played" by Cagle.

Here’s the full statement from Cagle campaign manager Scott Binkley:

There's been some inaccurate information on social media regarding Casey's position on Constitutional Carry, so I wanted to reach out directly to you to make Casey's position crystal clear:

First, Casey Cagle supports constitutional carry. He does not believe we should be required to get a government permit to exercise a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Second, when we enact constitutional carry legislation, we need to have an effective process in place to prevent convicted felons, mentally ill individuals and illegal immigrants from carrying firearms in our community. We can do this, but we need to make sure it happens. Law abiding gun owners know that we don't need to allow felons to carry firearms in our neighborhoods and we need a way to stop them from doing it.

Third, we should consider keeping some kind of optional permit in place for reciprocity reasons. We've done a good job pushing other states to allow our citizens to carry firearms when they travel, and we should continue to have a permit that people are not required to have in Georgia, but can get if they want to be able to carry in other states that recognize a Georgia permit. It would be a mistake to render Georgia citizens defenseless when we travel in the name of expanding gun rights.

Finally, please remember that Casey Cagle is the only candidate endorsed by the NRA in this election. There's a reason for this: he's the only candidate with a proven record of standing up for the Second Amendment under really tough circumstances time and again. Under his leadership, we've expanded concealed carry significantly, blocked bill after bill that would take away our rights, and taken major steps to open up access to the outdoors and pass our hunting and shooting heritage to the next generation.

The reason Casey is being attacked is because his opponents can't beat him on the facts and are choosing to hide behind false attacks instead.