RE: Confrontational politics and the Second Amendment

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.


  1. gcp says:

    Well why won’t Deal take a public stand on gun legislation? It sure would make a good debate question.

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    “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.””

    Wasn’t terrible?

    The GOP won’t ever again govern nationally until it changes from its present course of increasing extremism on nearly every issue.

    • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

      “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” Barry Goldwater in his acceptance speech as the 1964 Republican Presidential candidate…

      Though things ended poorly for ol’ Barry, I understand Mr. Staples point.

      The GOP is at war with itself as the Tea Party seeks to fast track their initiatives. “A House divided shall not stand,” evidenced in 2012 as Tea Partiers and Christian Coalition factions sat out Romney’s bid for 1600. WE chose not to rally behind our nominee, the spine of the GOP crooked by the weight of Mormonism and Moderation.

      We are at war with Democrats that seek a ‘big-government’ solution for our legitimate issues of National importance. The very voters the GOP must have to win, younger Latinos and African- Americans, are off-put by GOP policies on immigration and continuation of programs and services, respectively.

  3. villy says:

    Decent analysis, Jason. However, I think you are wrong a on a few points. Respectfully.

    The rules of the Georgia House allow for temporary suspension of the rules whether modified or structured. Rule 36 ad 37, I think. Roberts rules? Two-thirds required. So he was within the rules to make the motion whether the rules was structured, modified structured, whatever.

    Secondly, Gregory’s proposed amendment [if I’m not mistaken] didn’t just have mental health fixes in it, it also had pure [so to speak] church and campus carry language. So they were fixes to the bill which had become jumbled [amended negatively in Public Safety] at that point. The changes that had been made in Public Safety were bad. But virtually no one tried to fix them. There is video of the hearing.

    Being from the Macon area, we also heard from those there at the Capitol on the day of this vote that Representative Allen Peake was openly lobbying [or threatening if you will] other members who were considering voting for Gregory’s motion. Why would he do that? Does he care for Gregory’s future ability to pass legislation as you referred to, or was it something more? Unlikely. Was leadership/Governor’s office working to make sure their amendments that had been added in committee not get highlighted?

    All that being said, we saw what happened in the Senate [er rather, the conference] when a not so “perfect” bill makes it out of the House. Senator Ginn got sent home. Church carry was made less than desirable. Campus carry had a new government provision [mandate in it]. In a nutshell, it got worse.

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful response.

      Yes, I agree that his motion was legitimate. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Gregory opted not to follow the proper procedure to bring his amendment to the floor and was thoroughly smacked down by the whole of the House.

      As far as the fixes to the bill, look, I would have loved to see a purer bill come out of the House. I’m a gun owner and concealed carry permit holder and my views on the Second Amendment can accurately be described as “radical.”

      With that said, I understand that the politics of the legislature were not amenable to a purer piece of legislation. The votes just weren’t there so they put together a measure that they could pass, as imperfect as it may be.

      I also understand that Gregory had marginalized himself earlier on the session, this particular instance probably being the best example of that fact.

      Whether we like it or not, politics still matters. And while I agree that we have to change that, it has to be done in a better, more targeted way; through building coalitions and gaining credibility.

      Don’t get me wrong, I still believe confrontational politics has a place influencing the legislative process. But the tactics that have been employed to this point have, ultimately, hurt our cause because it has allowed many members of the legislature to marginalize us.

  4. villy says:

    With all do respect, Jason, “the votes weren’t there” comment just doesn’t fly. Are you implying all those Republicans would have voted against a more pure version of the bill that passed? I doubt it. They would have had to go home and tell their constituents that they refused to fight for a better gun bill.

    But maybe leadership tells everyone what to do and they all live in fear of being targeted? Who do you think was influencing the “politics” of the legislature? After all, wasn’t it the Governor himself who said passing a gun bill wasn’t part of his agenda? And then the actions of Peake on the floor . . . Why? What was he scared of? Peake is in caucus leadership, right? Whose bidding was he doing? The fix was in from the state. If you know the legislature at all, you know everything is almost always scripted. So someone rocking the boat so to speak is sure to draw the ire of that script, right?

    If you can find the committee hearing on the markup of this bill, please watch it (and repost here). I haven’t had such luck. But it was passed around on email before on a blog thread I was on. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Republicans on Public Safety willfully let the bill pass out of committee as is. Gregory was there and spoke about the problems in the bill. But still, no one on the committee did anything. Why would all those Republicans sit and do nothing? Scripted . . .

    Fair enough point about the rules committee, but according to your belief, the “politics” of the legislature prevented something better. So why should he have wasted his time? Would Meadows have allowed it? Unlikely. This move of his appeared to be his last resort.

    Oh, and I think there are worse things than being “smacked down” by that House. The same one that voted for TSPLOST, the Bed Tax, and other big government goodies. But hey, I’m getting on a tangent. What power does an early 30s freshman legislator have in the General Assembly? One guy makes a difference?

    In my unqualified opinion, church and campus carry are two of the lowest hanging fruits out there. The fact that they’ve been sitting so long, and the fact that it’s like moving a mountain to get this general assembly to move on them, makes me believe there’s something really wrong with leadership and this Governor. The make up of this legislature should make passing those easy as pie. When they finally do pass (and hopefully without bad amendments), it’s something that should have happened years ago with far less effort. To blame Representative Gregory seems ill-founded? Because according to you, he already wasn’t liked by leadership — which should be a badge of honor.

    But I don’t have that hope that we’ll get a great bill. The guy who was telling me about Peake’s antics also said there was a near mutiny among House Republicans on the floor in Sine Die about some of the proposals they heard coming out of conference on this issue.

    What makes you think Deal won’t pull the same tricks again in 2014?

    • Jason says:

      Are you implying all those Republicans would have voted against a more pure version of the bill that passed?

      I’m saying that it seems like there was a contingent of members who wouldn’t have voted for a purer bill, which likely would have killed it.

      What power does an early 30s freshman legislator have in the General Assembly? One guy makes a difference?

      At this point, I’d say he has no power. Georgia is different from the United States Congress, where there are a number of liberty-minded Republicans. While there are a handful of good guys in the state legislature, there still aren’t enough to do much of what we would like to see done.

      But the tactics being employed are driving a significant backlash, at the moment. What they are doing is marginalizing us, as I’ve already explained.

      While you may not realize this, there does have to be a level of political acumen to advance our political goals. The fact of the matter is that we’re never going to get everything we want at once, that’s just not reality. So, yes, we do have to take steps along the way to get there. No one said it was going to be easy.

      I’m libertarian [small “L”].

      As am I, but I also grasp politics.

  5. villy says:

    “Marginalized” = voted against unconstitutional big government schemes? Yeah, he probably did.

    Shame on him! *good-natured sarcasm from me*

    I’m libertarian [small “L”].

  6. villy says:

    I think you are the same “Jason” I know from being at events over the years. Aren’t you a member of the Libertarian Party?

    I still don’t believe Republicans would have voted against a “purer” version. Political suicide if they did.

    What backlash? From whom? The Governor, his staff, Cagle, Ginn and others didn’t backlash over Gregory. Their behind the scenes actions on SB 101 [or whatever the bill number] was their doing. He’s been in office three years [’11, ’12 — both years before Gregory was in there] and nothing has happened positive for gun rights.

    So who are you blaming? Seems like blame should be on leadership and the Governor. They are the political gatekeepers after all, right?

    • Jason says:

      I think you are the same “Jason” I know from being at events over the years. Aren’t you a member of the Libertarian Party?

      My membership expired. I didn’t renew it. I haven’t been involved in the Libertarian Party for over a year and I recently started attending local GOP meetings, much to the chagrin of the local party leaders.

      With that said, I’m a libertarian. That hasn’t changed.

      What backlash? From whom?

      If you’re not getting it at this point, maybe it’s time for me to move on.

      So who are you blaming? Seems like blame should be on leadership and the Governor. They are the political gatekeepers after all, right?

      I blame Gregory for rendering himself completely useless in his first session. I blame the groups associated with him for helping him accomplish that. And, yes, Deal and Republican leadership in the Senate deserve blame for falling down on the gun issue and I suspect they will face a big push next year from credible gun groups looking to advance gun rights.

      That has been movement on good gun legislation in past years. Has each bill been perfect? No, and I’m not saying they have. What I am saying is that you’re dealing with a political process that’s slow and doesn’t always give us what we want. Even if we had more liberty-minded legislators under the Gold Dome, the process would still be the same.

  7. mattk says:

    I’m trying to figure out if they just don’t understand that there is an established method to get things done in the assembly or if all the theatrics are just to get money.

    Everything they send out has a plea for more donations. Their one accomplishment has been to get Gregory elected, and now Gregory is pretty much ignored.

    If you have a known playbook of how to get things done and you do everything except what is in the playbook, one has to wonder if you are really interested in the game or the goals you claim to represent.

  8. villy says:

    I’m glad your libertarian principles haven’t changed.

    I’m still not getting the “useless” comment about Gregory. You yourself say “there still aren’t enough [good guys] to do much of what we would like to see done.” So whoever these “good guys” are, then they are all useless no matter what they do. Side note: I would like to know who you think the “good guys” are.

    Unless of course these “good guys” just go along to get along and work through the process to what, get pork back for the district? That’s typical of how most Republicans campaign — say one thing on the trail and do the opposite once in office.

    Everyone knows Gregory was Ron Paul’s state guy in ’10. We knew him here in the central Georgia area before he got in office. Ron Paul never passed a bill to my knowledge. But he did build a movement of libertarian types across the country.

    Maybe that’s Gregory’s shtick. Maybe that’s what he wants.

    • mattk says:

      “Good guys” at least try to get a bill that will actually be passed. Useless people stand up and gripe about it.

      If the movement he builds does nothing but shoots itself in the foot at every opportunity, then yes Gregory is useless.

  9. Harry says:

    I have a personal interest in my (adult) family members being permitted to carry on campus. Let’s hope it makes it next time.

  10. Michael Silver says:

    I know how the Georgia Gun Owners feel. So often, politicians claim they support gun rights but in fact are very much against them. They use smoke screens to hide their anti-2nd amendment views (for example making a video of them shooting at a gun range, a-la-Gabby Giffords

    In this case, I think the Georgia Gun Owners are targeting the wrong guy. Although Gov. Deal had some influence on the gun bill, it was Lt. Gov. Cagle’s people who were the big obstacle.

    When a pro-freedom bill seemed to be moving forward, the Senate Conferees started throwing in anti-Liberty provisions in the hope the House would walk away. Some of these provisions include:

    1) Adding mandated training to the law for the first time ever in Georgia’s history
    2) Adding a qualification in the law that they KNOW will be unequally applied against black Georgians (Opt-In)
    3) Continued age discrimination against 18 to 20 year old adult Georgians and expansion of that age discrimination to adults younger than 25 years old
    4) Expanding the list of government employees who are exempt from the carry laws in their entirety (interestingly, the Senate conferees all voted to exempt themselves from the law in 2011 (senate vote 160, March 16, 2011))
    5) Adding language that eliminates the pressure on SC to recognize a Georgia carry license

    The provisions that the Senate Conferees demanded demonstrate that they are an existential threat to the right of self-defense and gun rights in Georgia. In fact the Lt. Gov and the 3 conferees may be more dangerous than Barack Obama due to their ability to erase the gun-rights of Georgians. We are very lucky that the House walked away

Comments are closed.