BERNARD COLUMN: Georgia GOP and guns

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 2021

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By Jack Bernard

Bernard is a retired corporate executive

We should all want to control the misuse of firearms and, in fact, the majority of Americans clearly want something tangible done by Congress. Further, it has been repeatedly shown that “thoughts and prayers,” the GOP’s only strategy, is not an effective solution.

It’s clear that the majority of Americans want action to restrict some gun purchases including gun owners like me. In fact, 60% of those polled want stricter laws versus only 11% who want less gun control.   

Even GOP voters overwhelmingly (92%) want mentally ill people barred from owning firearms. Likewise, 82% of GOP voters want background checks for private gun sales and gun show sales. But you would never know it from the way that the Georgia GOP Congressional delegation reacted to legislation proposed to address these concerns. 

A few weeks ago, the House passed modest gun control legislation. However, the GOP reacted as though the opposing party wanted to confiscate all guns … which they clearly do not.   Specifically, Democrats just wanted to plug up what is commonly referred to as regulatory “loopholes” in existing gun control legislation. Currently, gun buyers, including felons and the mentally ill, can simply skirt any regulation by buying guns via mail order or at gun shows. The Democrats want to halt this practice, something all of us who truly want to “end gun violence” should support.   

However, by the overwhelmingly negative House GOP vote on HR 8, Republicans once again illustrated that they were just fine with criminal elements and insane people continuing to avoid gun restrictions. On a purely partisan vote, all but 8 GOP House Representatives (none from Georgia) voted against the bill which passed anyway.  House Bill 1446 was also another modest modification of existing law, giving up to 10 days for processing of the complicated background check which involves multiple agencies and states. Under existing law, gun sales are automatically processed if the background check doesn’t come up with something within 3 days, which is clearly not enough time.   

Although it passed, this second bill got only 2 GOP Representatives voting for it. No Georgia Congressional Republicans supported it, once again proving that Georgia’s GOP Congressmen do not want any reasonable regulation of guns, even if criminals and mentally ill people are purchasing them.   

Please do not continue to mislead Georgia’s voters by telling us that we all have the same aims regarding reducing firearm violence. By their actions on these two modest gun control bills, Georgia’s GOP Congressmen have lost any credibility on the issue.