Did Carter Blunder on Gun Bill?

April 22, 2014 8:22 am

by Tim Darnell · 23 comments

With Gov. Nathan Deal set to sign a bill this week expanding the rights of gun owners in the state, the issue is one of the few election-year items on which  his opponent, state Sen. Jason Carter, can’t attack.

That’s because Carter voted for the bill.

As reported by Fox 5 Atlanta, some polls indicated a majority of people opposing the bill by as much as 70 percent.

The bill allows guns to be carried in bars and churches if the business or congregation allows it. But gun owners will still have to carry a license.

In the meantime, at least one Atlanta minister used part of his Easter message to denounce the law.

Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church told his congregation on Sunday morning, “People have taken leave of their senses … With all of the problems we have here in Georgia … the one thing we don’t need is guns in bars … and guns in churches …”

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

mountainpass April 22, 2014 at 10:02 am

Does Warnock’s church hire armed guards?

Doctor Strangelove April 22, 2014 at 10:07 am

In one word- no.

It’s true, the majority of Democrats know the bill is a bad law. But Jason is right- guns are a polarizing issue, and no matter how many facts, statistics, and common sense you bring forth, there are some folks that just assume that OBAMA IZ TAKING OUR GUNS!!!111!!!

So really, it would never have been an election year issue, at least one that could help Jason. It could only hurt him.

And, just to be clear, Jason has ALWAYS been right of most Democrats on gun issues. Nobody that actually knows Georgia politics was shocked.

Will Durant April 22, 2014 at 11:46 am

No. It is mostly a pandering bill with little teeth, but too high-vis to vote against in an election year in Georgia.

Chris Huttman April 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm

I don’t believe a Democrat can win an election in Georgia if the issue landscape devolves into cultural R vs D issues. Jason needs the election to be about whether Deal is a competent manager on education, healthcare, state budget, emergency (snowpocalypse etc).

A lot of Democrats hate this bill, but Democratic legislators in Obama 60+ seats were recalled in Colorado when they made the election a cultural referendum on guns. As much as this bill sucks and I hate that Jason voted for it, let’s please make the election about things that actually matter – and in some way even having this discussion opens that door – why do Republicans feel they have to pass these ridiculous cultural bills to keep their base engaged, is it because they essentially have no good ideas when it comes to actually running the state?

The Last Democrat in Georgia April 23, 2014 at 12:35 am

“why do Republicans feel they have to pass these ridiculous cultural bills to keep their base engaged, is it because they essentially have no good ideas when it comes to actually running the state?”

While I feel that the gun rights expansion bill was an important expansion of Second Amendment rights, I don’t necessarily feel that it was the MOST important issue facing the state.

The GOP doesn’t pass cultural bills (like the gun rights expansion bill) because they have no good ideas when it comes to actually running the state. The GOP passes cultural bills because they are too lazy to do the tough work that’s required to push forward and enact the good ideas that they do actually have.

It is (or at least it seems that it is) much easier to just pass the distracting big ticket cultural red meat legislation on guns, gays, abortion and prayer than it is to work on the most-pressing issues like education, transportation, ethics, etc.

And it is much easier to pass the distracting big ticket cultural red meat legislation without working on the less-glamorous more-important stuff. But using cultural distractions as an alternative to actual governing will not continue to work forever as an effective electoral strategy during election years.

I worry that the currently ultra-dominant Georgia GOP could be in danger of squandering their overwhelming electoral and political advantage in state politics because of a refusal and a failure to put in the required amount of hard work on the less-glamorous but critically-important issues facing the state.

The red meat cultural pandering stuff can help to clinch elections for many cycles, particularly in the absence of an effective opposition party. But in order to continue winning elections over the long-term there does at some point have to at least be a perception by the public that some actual governing has been done. During their relatively very-short time in power, Georgia Republicans have had such a reputation for being so incredibly dysfunctional that one cannot necessarily be certain that there is a widely-held perception that the party has been effective at governing the state, even amongst Conservative voters within the GOP’s base.

Chris Huttman April 24, 2014 at 1:52 pm

The problem for Republicans/conservatives is sure they have some good ideas, but they can’t actually implement them because their base is crazy. Either a Democrat or Barack Obama agrees with their idea (see common core, healthcare exchanges) and they do an ideological 180 and claim that they were never for it or that somehow there’s a difference between proposing the idea and actually voting for it (as if they just propose a bunch of stuff that they aren’t for) or even when a Democrat doesn’t necessarily want to go along some nutty Agenda 21 person comes along and drives a wedge into the party.

So the ultimate problem for Republicans is – if you’ve got good ideas, but you have no ability to pass them – do you really have good ideas?

The Last Democrat in Georgia April 25, 2014 at 12:47 am

The Georgia GOP had the ability to pass their good ideas. Heck, they have a freakin’ legislative supermajority and control all statewide offices. If the Georgia GOP does not have the ability to pass their good ideas into law now, they never will.

Because of the state’s shockingly fast-changing demographics that are quickly pushing Georgia towards becoming a ‘majority-minority’ state (and because of the Georgia GOP’s continued dysfunction), the mid-2010′s likely are the high-water mark of GOP rule in Georgia.

With its overwhelming advantage in state politics, the Georgia GOP has more than had the ability to pass good legislation relating to tax reform, ethics, transportation, etc. The Georgia GOP just did not want to perform the continuing hard work that’s necessary to pass good legislation as some issues cannot be quickly resolved in one legislative session and require a continuing effort with multiple bills and legislative and/or executive actions over multiple sessions and years to be improved and/or resolved.

For example, one of the main reasons why the Georgia GOP got into so much (completely unnecessary) political trouble with the public over T-SPLOST in 2012 was because they tried to sell the highly-flawed T-SPLOST as the ultimate cure to the state’s main transportation ills when the public knew that a heck of a lot more work would be needed to improve transportation even in the unlikely event that the T-SPLOST were to pass.

Laziness and complacency are no substitute for good governance.

George Chidi April 22, 2014 at 1:23 pm

In 2012, 573 people in Georgia were murdered, according to the GBI. We can quibble about crime statistics, but there really isn’t a big fudge factor for murders. It’s probably the least subjective crime category. Most of the time, there’s a body right there, and historically there really aren’t a whole lot of missing persons’ cases that turn out to be murders.

Let’s throw a guess at justifiable homicides in there of 27 — that’s cops killing suspects or people standing their ground — for a round 600.

Perhaps 400 of those were gun murders — historically, about 2/3 of murderers use a gun. Half of all murders — about 300 in Georgia — use a handgun. The handgun thing is important here, because it’s not like someone’s typically toting a concealed deer rifle or (legal) shotgun into church or the corner bar.

The Wall Street Journal looked at 10 years of homicide data across every state (except Florida, because they suck.) Of the 4,637 firearm murders in Georgia between 2000 and 2010, roughly 23 percent of these killings occurred as the result of an argument. They identified 56, total, as a function of being in a brawl while drunk or high. The rest might be thought of as premeditated acts … for which a gun regulation wouldn’t make much difference.

Aggravated assaults — about 22,000 in Georgia in 2012. The FBI says about 20 percent of agg-assault uses a firearm. That’s 4400 cases a year in Georgia.

Georgia: population ~10 million. Gun murders by someone in a bar? If there are 10 all year in the whole state, I’d be shocked. That’s one in one million. It’s one-sixtieth of homicides, which are themselves vanishingly rare and growing rarer — the murder rate has generally been falling every year since the early ’90s. Assuming the gun assault to gun-murder ratio holds, that’s 80 shootings or less a year in a bar, in the whole state.

I am laying out these numbers to ask this question. Why are we obsessing over things that affect tiny numbers of people?

The amount of time and energy spent debating the gun bill has been wasted — regardless of your position on it — on something that is unlikely to result in a statistically meaningful change in how often people get shot. Is there a social component to this, a question of our values as a society? Sure. But that’s about all that’s going on. Carter could vote any way he likes on this bill. It just doesn’t matter. This gun legislation isn’t going to change a whole lot of people’s lives.

One could say the same thing about the medical marijuana bill. We spent how many legislative hours arguing a bill that affects — what, 100 people, tops — in this state? What could have we done with that time?

I tire of examining narrow issues when the state faces massive, massive problems with its transportation infrastructure, weak job creation, a health care system that’s breaking at the seams, lousy school performance and deep corruption issues.

saltycracker April 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm

You are dead on as to how politicians avoid the big issues.. probably because they have no clue how to serve all the citizens at the same time they are dependent on special interests funding campaigns and working with an empire of public employees.

The Last Democrat in Georgia April 22, 2014 at 11:42 pm

+2 to saltycracker and Mr. Chidi.

The gun bill, as much as I agree with most (but not necessarily all) of its contents (especially the part where the governor cannot confiscate privately-owned firearms during an emergency), I also agree that the bill was conveniently put forth as an attempt to be a huge distraction other much more pressing issues during a major statewide election year.

jiminga April 23, 2014 at 7:35 am

“This gun legislation isn’t going to change a whole lot of people’s lives.” True, but it could save a few, and one of them could be yours and then the law would become very important to you, wouldn’t it?

George Chidi April 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I’m willing to die for what I believe, Jiminga. I’m also willing to kill for it. I was a soldier for long enough to understand what that meant.

But next, I suppose you’re going to suggest that capital trial juries should be composed solely of the families of murder victims. Because justice matters less than how you, personally, feel about something.

Your brand of “question,” Jiminga, is exactly the kind of emotionally-manipulative bulls–t that creates bad policy — which gets more people killed. And one of the ways I measure policy is in how many people die as a result.

The cold, hard truth of it is that the legal changes at play are likely to have so minimal a practical effect that the number of lives at consideration is lower than statistical variance — too small to measure. And if it’s too small to measure … why are we bothering with it at all!

The legislative time wasted on it cost more lives in terms of opportunity costs lost, places where a change in policy might have found more money for medicine or hospital care or safety and environmental policy changes that reduced mortality rates or something. Economic growth saves lives. Every extra nurse employed at Grady is worth more net lives saved. Instead, we’re railing on about … this.

But, hey. You’re hitting me with the Dukakis debate question. A variant on the “suppose it were my wife who was raped” question. And I’m suddenly supposed to reconsider my views because I’m enough of a coward to start quailing at the prospect of being that one in 10 million who gets killed in a bar fight that, somehow, wouldn’t have happened anyway without this law.

The very best answer I’ve ever heard to crap like this was in a George Clooney movie written by Aaron Sorkin, “The Ides of March.” Clooney’s character, facing a question from Charlie Rose about the death penalty, was asked what he would do if his wife were the victim.

GOV. MORRIS: Sure…well if I could get to him I’d find a way to kill him.
CHARLIE ROSE: So you, you Governor would impose the death penalty.
GOV. MORRIS: No, I would commit a crime for which I would happily go to jail.
CHARLIE ROSE: Then why not let society do that?
GOV. MORRIS: Because society has to be better than the individual. If I were to do that I would be wrong.

This is it, in a nutshell.

oscardagrch April 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Georgia I would imagine that we obsess over things that affect a tiny number of persons because one murder is one murder too many.

I find it interesting you noted that 56 murders between 2000 and 2010 were as a result of someone being drunk or high. Did you know that under HB 60 that those 56 people, had they committed their murders after July 1st would have been able to claim “stand your ground”?

George Chidi April 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm

First, no, they would not have been able to claim Stand Your Ground just because they were drunk or high. That’s nonsense.

There’s no such thing as an “acceptable” number of murders. But we know the antecedents to violence. Unemployment. Untreated mental illness. Untreated drug dependency. Economic stress. Limited access to legal redress. Lower levels of education.

I am perfectly satisfied with Jason Carter trading away a conservative feel-good vote on a bill that will have a statistically-negligible change on gun murders, if it gives him a better chance to move legislation on drug treatment and education spending and economic opportunities for the poor and the working class — things that are likely to bring down crime rates in measurable ways. I know what matters.

Jane April 22, 2014 at 8:45 pm

MLK`s mom was killed in a church by a crazy man. If there would have been someone armed guarding the church she might have lived.

Harry April 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Where have all the flowers gone, and when will they ever learn?

Will Durant April 22, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Harry,
I really don’t mean to badger you but do you not see the irony in your quoting Pete Seeger as an amen to carrying guns into church?

Harry April 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Yes I do. Do you?

Will Durant April 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Well, since Pete is just as dead as you think European culture is I can’t ask his opinion though I’m fairly certain of what it would have been, so no, please expound.

Harry April 22, 2014 at 10:15 pm

I think it’s obvious that you guys will never learn that legal guns deter and prevent crimes committed by illegal guns. When guns are legal, more people survive. When guns are outlawed only outlaws have guns. No matter where Pete is, he now understands the truth. The living dead are still in denial.

Will Durant April 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Thought so.

Irony is a frequently professed follower of the Prince of Peace carrying a piece to church to worship him.

Irony is using the trite outlaw quote when there is a gun in circulation for every human in the US.

Irony is letting people drink and carry in a bar but not drink and carry the unconsumed beverage out of the bar.

I could go on here but in light of today’s signing, smokem if you gottem boys, have fun.

Harry April 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Here’s another one…An armed society is a polite society.

Will Durant April 24, 2014 at 11:48 am

I was going to leave this alone but I just can’t.

Irony is someone of small …..mind, who thinks that openly carrying a firearm compensates and somehow garners them more respect.