I read with interest Jessica’s post about the flyers that were placed on people’s cars at Gov. Nathan Deal’s recent event.
While I’m not exactly a fan of our Governor, his record on the Second Amendment in Congress wasn’t terrible. He received an “A” from the National Rifle Association in 2010, his last year in Congress, and a score of 91% from Gun Owners of America, a group that bills itself as the “only no compromise gun lobby in Washington.”
With that said, however, the Associated Press noted back in April that Deal’s office “worked quietly with opponents [of pro-gun bills] to make their concerns known.”
There were several good pieces of gun legislation introduced in the last session. But the failure to pass SB 101 is, perhaps, the most interesting story.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who may have been working in collusion with Deal’s staff, didn’t release Senate conferees until after 11pm. Because legislation has to sit for an hour after a conference report is signed, it effectively put it on hold. Despite how some may try to spin it, this bill wasn’t “killed.” It’ll likely come up again when the legislature reconvenes next year.
But that’s not the only part of background of SB 101.
On March 22nd, the Georgia House passed SB 101, which would allow churches to decided whether or not to let congregants with concealed weapons permits bring their guns on the grounds and finally recognizes students’ long-deprived right to self-defense.
The bill wasn’t perfect, but it moved the ball forward on gun rights in Georgia.
But during the discussion in the House on SB 101, State Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw), who was elected last year and works closely with the organization that planted the flyers at Deal’s event, pleaded to his colleagues to pass a better bill. He felt the bill was watered down and pointed to mental health language as a cause for concern.
“These provisions will serve only to create and perpetuate government bureaucracies, violate individual privacy, and encumber law abiding citizens. Just like criminals, crazy people that would do us harm don’t care about our laws,” said Gregory from the well. “And mark my words, someone is going to try and expand these provisions even further in years to come.”
“This is the new face of gun-control,” he added.
Now, some may snicker at the notion Gregory presented, but he has a point. Mental health provisions in New York’s SAFE Act were used to confiscate guns from a man who was wrongly accused of taking anti-anxiety medication.
But this wasn’t anything close to the SAFE Act, nor was it a thinly veiled attempt for gun control. The language in SB 101 points to existing statutes to define mental illness and “involuntary treatment,” which as far as I know haven’t been used to disarm a law-abiding citizen in Georgia.
Gregory then made a motion from the well to amend SB 101, though he was reminded by House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) that motions have to come from the floor.
After returning to his desk, Gregory made the motion, which was promptly ruled out of order by Ralston. The reason his motion was ruled out of order was because the bill was brought out under a modified structured rule, which means that any amendments to the bill had to be approved by the House Rules Committee in advance.
Gregory either didn’t go through the proper process or didn’t care, despite the fact that he voted for the rules by which the House is governed. He appealed Ralston’s ruling, finding himself to be the only vote to overturn it.
Now, I’ve read the online temper tantrums of some folks who claim that those who voted against overturning the chair are somehow against the Second Amendment. Look, the House adopted its rules and there was a process to follow. Gregory chose not to abide by it. Where does the blame lie?
You can watch the whole thing online here. The debate on the bill begins at 1:20:00 and ends at 1:41:48. Gregory speaks at 1:31:14 and ends at 1:36:40. He makes his motion at 1:37:00 to 1:39:00
Over the course of eight minutes, Gregory pretty much destroyed any chance he ever had of passing a meaningful piece of legislation, which is both a disservice to his constituents and his own principles.
Whatever his concerns may be and whatever reasoning he had doesn’t matter because of manner in which he conducted himself.
I written everything above to say this: Gov. Deal may have worked to slow down or stop gun legislation this past session. There’s no reason to doubt that and I think that this should be pointed out. But confrontational politics is probably the worst way in which do it because it ultimately undermines the message.
Gregory and his associated gun group may very well have set the gun rights cause back, not just during the session, but also after, as demonstrated this weekend.
Sure, it may be great for list-building or when you’re preaching to the choir. But in this instance, it wasn’t an effective platform to implement good public policy.