Home International News Abrams tries to flip the script on guns and crime in Georgia

Abrams tries to flip the script on guns and crime in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) — As Republicans across the country prepare to attack Democrats with hard hitting crime rigs, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams is making guns a central focus in her race for governor, trying to make crime a liability for the incumbent Republican government Brian Kemp’s reelection bid.

Abrams made tightening Georgia’s gun laws a big part of a public safety plan she released Thursday, proposing to roll back several laws Georgian Republicans have enacted since 2014 to cut restrictions on who can carry a gun and where to relax.

The Democrat is also trying to tap into divisions over how the government should fight crime, arguing that Kemp and Republicans have reverted to a failed lock-’em-up approach, reinforcing a previous bipartisan push to focus on less. punitive approaches.

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr, one of Kemp’s closest allies, said it is “absolutely wrong” that Republicans have abandoned reform efforts. †

But he said the Democrats would be wrong in rejecting a Kemp strategy aimed at tackling gangs, giving police officers bonuses and creating a special state unit to focus on crime and street racing in urban areas. areas.

Carr said Democrats are “essentially more interested in protecting violent criminals than vulnerable communities.”

Tightening gun restrictions is an issue that resonates with Democratic voters and could affect suburban white women and other swing voters at a time when the country is still in shock from mass shootings at an upstate New York supermarket and Texas school. . Those and other shootings have added new urgency to an apparently stalled national gun debate, with some congressional Republicans expressing willingness to make at least minor compromises.

Democrats are betting voters are “at a breaking point,” as Georgia Democratic Rep. Shea Roberts puts it, over Republicans’ decisions to expand gun access.

In 2014, Georgian lawmakers allowed people to carry weapons to other places, including bars, churches and even up to airport security. In 2017, they added college campuses to the list. And Kemp passed a law this year that abolished the requirement for people to have permits to carry concealed weapons in public. That fulfilled a promise Kemp made when he became governor in 2018 with provocative advertisements, including one in which he pointed a gun at an actor who played a lover for one of Kemp’s daughters.

Roberts dethroned a Republican legislator in an affluent Atlanta district in 2020, saying she was motivated to run after her daughter described an active school shooting practice two weeks before the 2018 school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

“It’s only gotten worse since then,” Roberts said.

Abrams wants universal background checks on private gun sales, red flag legislation to allow weapons to be taken from those who pose a danger to themselves and others, and to prevent someone who has had a gun removed under protective order from buying another.

Polls showed that even many Republican voters felt Kemp and GOP legislators went too far in making unlicensed concealed weapons legal, said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

“It wasn’t a hugely popular idea, even among Republican voters,” Bullock said. “No doubt the legislature only listened to the hardest hardcore Republicans, and not where the average Republicans were on some of those issues.”

But even if Abrams wins, she will likely face Republican majorities who oppose her proposals in the Georgian legislature. Those majorities are supported by vocal groups that are against any compromise.

“The people who really believe in their rights will believe in their rights no matter what,” said Jerry Henry, executive director of the Georgia gun rights group GA2A.

Henry said he doubts Republicans are willing to tighten Georgia’s laws. Such proposals would only be viable if Abrams “drags an entire group of Democrats to the General Assembly with her,” Henry said. “And I’m not even sure all Democrats will go with her.”

Carr says Abrams and his attorney general opponent, Democrat Jen Jordan, misread how Georgians think about guns and protecting themselves from crime.

“They’re out of touch with where Georgians are,” Carr said. “It’s a basic human need to be safe and secure.”

Abrams wants to reconstruct a criminal justice reform council that authored multiple reforms when Republican Nathan Deal was governor. Sara Totonchi, policy director for the Abrams campaign, said Abrams would instruct the group to “take a close look at violent crime, why it happens and what we can do to tackle it at the source.”

Abrams suggests intervening in schools and families to prevent violence and expand vocational training and opportunities. She wants to turn a number of minor traffic and drug offenses into civil offences. And she wants a “clean slate” law that would automatically erase criminal records if someone doesn’t reoffend within a certain period of time.

Republican National Committee spokesman Garrison Douglas derided the proposal with a blank slate as a “crime,” saying it was further evidence that Abrams is soft on crime. Republicans have already attacked Abrams for serving on the board of the Seattle-based Marguerite Casey Foundation, saying the group is in favor of defunding or abolishing the police force.

Kemp, in turn, is under attack by Democrats for receiving $50,000 in campaign contributions from Daniel Defense, the Georgia-based company that made the rifle used in the Uvalde, Texas school attack.

Abrams’ crime plan is the third in a series of aggressive actions aimed at turning the tables on issues Kemp has been advocating. After Kemp extended a temporary vacation from the gas tax until July, Abrams appealed to Kemp to extend it for the rest of the year. Kemp delivered a $5,000 pay raise signature for teachers; Abrams responded by calling for an additional $11,000 average raise for teachers.

The question, Bullock said, is whether guns and other social issues will motivate voters in a campaign in which Republicans are likely to focus on the economy, with Kemp taking credit for economic development projects while the GOP hammers Democrats on inflation.

With Kemp now in charge of his re-election to Abrams, “she probably has a more challenging task this time around than she did four years ago,” Bullock said. “So she should try to neutralize with issues that could overcome the economic message the governor is going to spread.”

Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.

Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy

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