There is one issue in politics that we can count on year after year. No matter the circumstance, this subject matter is always a point of contention in General Assemblies across America and on the federal level in Washington. So what is the issue that just won’t go away? Ironically, it’s an issue, that I feel, shouldn’t be up for discussion or an issue at all — our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
For decades we have heard both sides of the argument. Unfortunately, recent attacks, domestic and foreign, fuel the debate of gun rights vs. gun control. And believe me, this discussion is not going away. The Constitution grants each and every American the “right to bear arms.” However, gun control laws are constantly popping up. Every argument under the sun is brought up in order to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain and keep their guns.
Here is one of my favorite gun control arguments: “When the founding fathers wrote that amendment, they were using muskets, not an AK-47.” Technology has advanced a bit, but in reality, our founding fathers had the same weaponry the English loyalists had. Think of it this way: if we were to listen to this argument, it would be the same as allowing the government to bring a gun to a knife fight because, by “gun control” standards, you as an everyday citizen aren’t allowed to have a gun. You have to use the knife. Does this mean that I think every Tom, Dick and Harry should have access to nuclear weapons? No. But I do think that Tom, Dick and Harry (law-abiding citizens) should be allowed to protect themselves and their families against an intruder, a robbery or, yes, even the government. And, the Second Amendment protects that right.
This summer alone, numerous gun control bills have been introduced on the federal level, with Democrats even staging a “sit-in” on the House floor. Like the federal level, Georgia has also seen its fair share of pro- and anti-gun legislation. In the 2016 legislative session, we were presented with numerous gun bills, falling on both sides of the argument. The most controversial legislation came in the form of House Bill 731 (gun control) and House Bill 859 (gun rights). House Bill 731 would ban commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and require their confiscation. The bill would also ban the possession, sale, transport, and distribution or use of certain firearms defined as “assault weapons.” Going further, HB 731 would require seizure of these firearms by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. On the other end of the spectrum was House Bill 859, also known as “Campus Carry.” I co-sponsored HB 544 the “Campus Carry Act of 2015 and I was proud to co-sign HB 859. HB 859 would have allowed anyone with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for dormitories, Greek housing or at athletic events. Currently, Georgia law prohibits the procession of firearms on college campuses. Have you seen some of our college campuses? They are huge. Not to mention, more than a few are located in less than safe neighborhoods in downtown Atlanta.
I cannot support any infringement upon the rights of law-abiding citizens who responsibly enjoy their Second Amendment right. Furthermore, I will not support weakening my constituents’ abilities to defend themselves when studies and statistics have repeatedly shown that restrictive gun laws only embolden those who have no respect for the law. This puts law-abiding citizens in harm’s way, unable to protect themselves and their families. I grieve for the families of those who have lost children and loved ones to the senseless acts of criminals who disregard our laws.
I am a husband and the father of three little girls. I am also a proud gun owner. My father taught me at an early age how to enjoy the responsibility of gun ownership. Some of my most favorite memories with my father growing up were those of our many hunting and camping trips. However, I understood then, and even more so now, that the Second Amendment was not and is not about hunting. I believe Thomas Jefferson stated it best: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
People who have the capacity or will to kill another human being are going to find a way to do so, be it by gun, knife or rock. And I certainly don’t believe citizens who actually follow the rules should be punished for the actions of criminals.
State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, represents Georgia House of Representatives' District 67, which includes parts of Douglas and Paulding counties.