The Jolt: No action planned by GOP leaders to curb gun access in Georgia after Texas school shooting

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
08/30/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a COVID-19 update press conference at the Georgia Capitol Building in Atlanta, Monday, August 30, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

08/30/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a COVID-19 update press conference at the Georgia Capitol Building in Atlanta, Monday, August 30, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

While other states, and even some Republicans in Congress, are discussing possible new restrictions on access to guns in the wake of the horrific mass school shooting in Uvalde, Tex., don’t expect Republican leaders in Georgia to join the list.

In fact, gun laws in Georgia have been headed in the opposite direction.

Gov. Brian Kemp made signing “constitutional carry” legislation an early win in the 2022 legislative session.

While the bill did not change who can carry a gun in Georgia nor where they can carry them, it eliminated the license that Georgians previously needed to carry a concealed weapon outside of their homes.

Democrats hammered Kemp at the time for signing permitless carry, which they called “criminal carry,” and in a new ad out Wednesday.

When we asked Kemp’s office this week about any possible changes to gun policy following Uvalde, we were referred back to a detailed “School Safety Update,” the governor’s office released last week.

The document notes that one of the governor’s three daughters is a 1st grade teacher and details the steps he’s taken since 2019 to focus on preventing school shootings, including an expansion of active shooter trainings for officers, additional school security funding, and new resources signed into law this year for mental health services.

No changes to gun policies were a part of the mix.

As for legislative leaders, House Speaker David Ralston likewise put his primary legislative focus this year on passing a major overhaul and funding boost for mental health services. On the Senate side, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller are both headed for the exits, with both of those leadership spots up in the air.

Overall, we’re told there is “no appetite” inside the GOP caucuses, nor among GOP base voters, for any consideration of new limits to firearms as a way to prevent possible mass shootings in the state.

One outlier on that is the outgoing lieutenant governor, whom we told you earlier this week stepped out of the GOP tent to call for action on gun violence.

“Like an overwhelming majority of Americans, I am ready to have a conservative and comprehensive conversation about changing the trajectory of gun violence and mass shootings.”

While Duncan may be ready for a conversation on new gun restrictions, it seems few other Republican leaders in the state agree.


In campaign news, Republicans have long worried that Herschel Walker could be his own worst enemy. Democrats are only just beginning to test that theory out.

The latest ad from U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock features a 26-second clip of the GOP Senate nominee insisting, wrongly and without any evidence, during the COVID-19 pandemic that he had a “dry mist” that will “kill any COVID on your body.”

Only at the end does an image of Warnock flash on screen saying, simply, that he approves the message after a question fades from view: “Is Herschel Walker really ready to represent Georgia?”

The ad – and the flurry of attacks sure to follow – are the kind of scathing broadsides that Gary Black and Walker’s other GOP rivals predicted. But they had just a fraction of the financial resources that Warnock boasts.

Warnock’s campaign issued a primary-night memo telegraphing plans to promote other instances where Walker’s fumbling responses to questions about his policy stances or flat-out falsehoods about his business and academic record could haunt him.

But Walker enjoys something that Warnock so far lacks: Air cover from outside groups. Two pro-Walker groups have already promised to spend $18 million this summer to boost his chances while a third, 34N22, recently reserved airtime.


Herschel Walker may have given Democrats more to work with recently when he sat down with FOX 5 Atlanta’s Russ Spencer.

When Spencer asked about former President Donald Trump’s repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, Walker said he’d never heard Trump say that.

“I think reporters say that. I don’t know whether President Trump has ever said that because he has never said that to me. I’ve never heard president Trump ever say that. But everyone knows something happened in the election because Stacey Abrams hasn’t conceded to Brian Kemp, has she?”

Walker also gave this bizarre answer when he was asked about the Senate’s habit of passing continuing resolutions, which are temporary funding bills:

“I think that says people are not reading what they’re passing. And I think when people start seeing what they’re passing, just like this infrastructure bill that people say I don’t want to talk about, you go to be more thorough when you’re reading it. Because I said, ‘Guys, we want to look at things that’s gonna help this most of the resolutions they’re passing, are they helping us?’”

Finally, asked whether he is continuing to receive mental health treatment, Walker said no.

“No, that’s all done. And you don’t need to. That’s what I tell people.”


The 34N22 Super PAC supporting Herschel Walker will be in Atlanta Saturday with a “gas giveaway.” It’s in line with Walker’s own focus on inflation and rising gas prices.

The PAC says that any customer who pulls up to the Atlanta Chevron station they’ve chosen will receive a $25 gas voucher for free gas as well as literature about the upcoming U.S. Senate race. They’ll keep going until they’ve given away $4,000 in gas vouchers.

The address for the gas station will be announced on Saturday morning.


On the campaign calendar:

  • Stacey Abrams is hosting a massive campaign event on Monday built around celebrating recent graduates. The “One Georgia Fest: Grad Edition” is being headlined by rapper Baby Tate. The free event is being held at the Terminal West in Atlanta, and is open to the public.
  • Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley will headline a rally for Jeremy Hunt in Columbus on Wednesday. Hunt is one of two Republicans in the runoff in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District, along with Chris West.
  • Ahead of the 10th District GOP Congressional runoff, trucking executive Mike Collins has announced this “18 Wheel, 18 County Bus Tour.” In a publicity stunt even we might fall for, Collins will drive his own big rig across the district for the GOTV events.


In endorsement news ahead of the June 21 runoffs:

* Stacey Abrams has endorsed state Rep. Bee Nguyen for secretary of state, Charlie Bailey for lieutenant governor, and state Sen. William Boddie for labor commissioner.

* Former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, one of two Democrats in the runoff for Georgia Secretary of State, was endorsed by three former rivals on Wednesday. Michael Owens, former state Sen. Floyd Griffin Jr., and former Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves all backed Dawkins-Haigler’s campaign. State Reps. Billy Mitchell and Sandra G. Scott have also endorsed her over state Rep. Bee Nguyen.


Today in Washington:

  • The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on a slate of gun bills that Democrats want to pass in the wake of recent mass shootings.
  • The Senate is out of session.


We told you about the massive Hyundai plant now planned for a “megasite” in Bryan County.

Now Adam Van Brimmer writes in the Savannah Morning News what that means in practical terms for the community that sits about a 45 miles up the road from Savannah.

In short, 8,100 jobs will be the tip of the iceberg for what is currently a bunch of woods behind a truck weigh station.

Think dozens of additional suppliers building new facilities, higher wages, and loads of new development for the area.

With Hyundai's arrival, we need to accept the following reality in advance: The 46-mile stretch of I-16 between the Chatham Parkway exit and the U.S. 301 exit near Statesboro is going to lose its natural scenic aesthetic….

Hyundai's “transformative" push has already begun. The timeline for the factory's opening — January 2025 - is aggressive. Time for all of us in Savannah to get up to speed.

- The Savannah Morning-News


In personnel news, Rebecca DeHart is now the interim executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia reclaiming the role after serving as the party’s full-time executive director from 2014-2019.

The veteran operative left the party in early 2019 to launch Fair Count, one of several nonprofits founded by Stacey Abrams. She was replaced by Scott Hogan, who helped marshal the party’s forces to 2020 wins.


In the brave new world of campaigns with many, many social media channels, a candidate can never have too many snaps. Hence, Kevin Lowery has joined the Stacey Abrams campaign as a full time staff photographer.


Our condolences to the family and friends of former Columbus Mayor Bob Hydrick, who passed away last week and whose funeral is today.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer writes that Hydrick was an early staffer on Bo Calloway’s campaign for Congress when Calloway became the first Republican elected to Congress from Georgia since Reconstruction.

Hydrick was also close with J.R. Allen, who was elected mayor of Columbus, but killed in a plane crash during his term in office. Local Republicans approached Hydrick to run in the special election to fill out the remainder of the mayor’s term, and Hydrick served from 1973 to 1974.


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