Guns are a major issue in Georgia elections and voters thoughts about them are sometimes more complex than the bills lawmakers pass. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

What Georgians think about guns

Georgia is considered one of the more gun-friendly states, where lawmakers regularly pass bills loosening restrictions on firearms. But the story gets more complex when voters are asked their opinion. 

Looking back at five years of Atlanta Journal-Constitution polls shows broad support for carrying guns for self-defense. However, Georgia voters favor stronger rules on assault weapons and background checks. 

>> Related: Georgia poll archive

>> Related: The gun rights debate in Georgia intensifies with 2020 nearing 

In April 2018 following mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida, 45% of likely Republican primary voters said laws covering the sale of guns should be more strict while 46% said they should stay the same and 7% said they should be less strict. However, 78% of those same voters said preserving gun laws was either very important or important to them in determining which candidate would get their vote. 

In another poll taken that same month, about 90% of Democratic primary voters said laws regulating gun sales should be more strict. 

Voters strongly oppose allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit by a margin of 83% to 15%, according to a poll from January. A bill to allow what is known as open carry was filed but did not advance in the last legislative session. Gov. Brian Kemp voiced support for the issue during his 2018 campaign. 

 Voters in that same poll also supported increasing the age to buy an assault weapon from 18 to 21 by 78% to 19%. A few years earlier, support for a nationwide ban on assault weapons was nearly even, with 48% in favor and 47% opposed. 

While Georgians may support tightening some firearms rules, a solid majority thinks guns make communities safer.  

In 2016, 57% of voters said they supported or encouraged more people to carry guns for self-defense while 38% were opposed. 

That same year, background checks for gun sales online or at gun shows had support from 76% of voters. 

Gov. Nathan Deal signed two gun rights expansions. In 2014, it became legal to carry firearms in a wide range of new places, including schools, bars, churches and government buildings. Two years later he vetoed a bill to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on the campuses of public colleges. The following year, Deal signed a similar bill

Polls during that time showed Georgians favored keeping guns off college campuses

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