Shannon Lawhon of Athens is a gun owner who describes herself as a believer in the Second Amendment.
She’s also the mother of a 4-year-old. “I want my child and all his friends to grow up in a safe community,’’ she said.
Lawhon is a Georgia leader of the group Moms Demand Action, and joined hundreds of these volunteers as they rallied at the state Capitol last week to support measures they say will protect public safety.
There are several bills related to guns at the state Legislature this session.
The Moms group supports proposals to prohibit convicted domestic abusers from possessing guns. It also seeks to repeal the state “campus carry’’ bill, which allows people with firearms permits to carry concealed guns onto public college and university campuses.
The group is also playing defense, working to defeat legislation, House Bill 2, that would allow “permitless carry’’ in Georgia.
Currently, Georgia gun owners must pay about $75 to register with the state and pass a background check before being issued a license to carry a handgun in public, according to the AJC.
The lead sponsor of the permitless carry legislation is state Rep. Matt Gurtler, a Republican from the North Georgia town of Tiger.
“As it stands now, law-abiding Georgians are taxed millions of dollars annually for exercising their God-given natural rights of self-defense,” Gurtler said after filing his bill last year. “Under the Constitution and in accordance with our Founding Fathers, ‘shall not be infringed’ is a no-compromise statement.” The Second Amendment says that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.”
Gov. Brian Kemp, who took office last month, said last year that he supports eliminating the need for the carry permit for those otherwise legally qualified to own guns.
All the gun-related measures in Georgia face an uphill climb to passage, experts say. There are many shades of opinion within the gun control debate.
Moms Demand Action has 12 local groups across the state. The organization was formed after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut that killed 20 students and six adults.
But last year’s shooting spree at a Parkland, Fla., high school, which left 17 people dead, has energized the Moms group.
Parkland “woke people up,’’ said Lawton. It has increased the number of volunteers in Georgia, she said.
“I see improved relationships with lawmakers, especially since Parkland,’’ Lawton said. “Lawmakers realize it’s an important issue for voters.’’
Not all the activists who showed up Wednesday were mothers.
Rylee Holland, 17, of Canton said she started the first Georgia chapter of Students Demand Action. “With Parkland, we all realized how unsafe’’ school property can be, Holland told GHN.
She advocated Wednesday against permitless carry and against allowing domestic abusers to possess guns.
“There’s always more we can do,’’ she said.