Democrat Stacey Abrams. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

How a misfired gun-related tweet put Abrams on the defensive

An erroneous quote of Stacey Abrams by a gun control activist quickly caught fire with Second Amendment supporters who back Republican Brian Kemp in the Georgia race for governor. 

It started at a private event at the Moms Demand Action “Gun Sense University” conference over the weekend, where the group’s founder Shannon Watts tweeted that Abrams told the crowd “we’re not going to allow guns for anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

Gun rights advocates quickly amplified that Saturday tweet, which was soon deleted, to energize voters who are critical of Abrams’ support for gun control measures. Memes soon sprouted asserting that the Democrat wants to ban guns “in any place at anytime.” 

Her actual comments, though, were far different than what Watts misquoted. Here’s what she told the group, according to audio of the 11-minute address obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 

“There are those of us who are told that our paths are going to be blocked by barriers that are created by folks not ourselves. That because we are women, because we are people of color, because we are poor, because we believe that the right to bear arms does not mean the right to bear arms everywhere, anytime, anywhere, we are told that our beliefs are permanently off the table.”

Abrams often echoes that line on the campaign trail, a reference to her vow to repeal the 2017 “campus carry” law that allows permitholders to carry weapons on college campuses and support for universal background checks for private sales of firearms.

Abrams and Kemp are sharply divided on nearly every major debate in Georgia politics, but the clash over the Second Amendment stands out. 

What You Need To Know: Stacey Abrams

Abrams is the first Georgia gubernatorial nominee in decades to support firearms restrictions and openly war with the gun lobby, a shift that upends the party’s decades-old political approach to the debate. 

Kemp framed himself as the most aggressive Second Amendment rights supporter in the crowded GOP primary, and his provocative shotgun-wielding ad and a call for a sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition over the July Fourth holiday helped power him to the runoff. 

He and his supporters aim to brand Abrams as a “radical” for her gun control stance. An online ad released last week from Georgia Gun Owners, a firearms advocacy group, repeats the phrase “ban, confiscate, destroy” four times as it assails Abrams’ proposal to restrict assault weapons. 

At the Moms Demand Action event, started by a group launched in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Abrams implored activists to reject attempts to cast them as out-of-touch. 

“We’re asking for safety. We’re asking for security. We’re asking for common sense,” she said. “There’s nothing radical about keeping our community safe. There’s nothing radical about saying if you have committed domestic violence, we’re not going to give you extra weaponry to commit more.”

Abrams also urged them not to shy away from staking positions on gun control – even in conservative areas. That includes her sponsorship of a 2016 proposal that would ban assault weapons, armor piercing bullets and ammunition that contains depleted uranium. 

“It is OK to talk about gun safety,” she said. “It’s OK to talk about taking away weapons that have never belonged on our streets. It’s OK to demand a three-day waiting period. It is OK to say that background checks are necessary because not everyone who has the right to bear arms deserves the arms they want to bear.”

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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