Email from GCO:
(6) AJC Heavily Edits GCO Letter to Editor
This was to be the "equal time" letter to the one above, authored by GCO Vice President and President John Monroe and Ed Stone. We should have known better than to point out that the Atlanta Journal was at the heart of motivating Georgia's General Assembly to pass racist gun control laws. They edited out that section, and the paragraph surrounding it, and paragraphs around it. The end result is a disjointed article that hardly addresses the purpose for which it was written. As a result, we are providing a link to the letter to the editor, so that you can read for yourselves what was printed in the AJC, but we are going to provide the text below of what was solicited and submitted to the AJC, so that you can also see for yourselves what we wrote.
HERE is the link to the heavily edited AJC version. (Aren't those two guys handsome?)
And below is the letter as it was actually written:
GeorgiaCarry.Org’s mission is to foster the civil right of its members to bear arms.While the phrase “bear arms” is familiar to most people from text of the Second Amendment, GCO’s mission is focused on the notion that people have an inherent right to self-defense that is firmly rooted in our history.We think welike the unedited version better . . . and before you ask, no, we did notexceed the allotted word limit.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, based in a human right of self defense that existed before the Constitution was ratified.There has been a gradual erosion of this human right in Georgia stemming from racial politics during Reconstruction and the early 20th Century.GCO seeks to undo this erosion. Aside from requiring white men to carry firearms to church, Georgia had virtually no gun control until after the Civil War, when civil rights were extended to the recently freed slaves.After Reconstruction, the General Assembly ejected the black members of the legislature on the ground that they were not citizens and had no right to hold public office.The ensuing protests ended in what came to be called the Camilla Massacre, in which the local sheriff and his posse ambushed Republican protestors in a crossfire on the town square in Camilla.Nine protestors were killed and more than 30 were wounded, with survivors who fled into the woods being hunted with dogs and guns.Some protestors had been armed with shotguns, and a member of the Sheriff’s posse lamented that the Massacre would have been more successful if the protestors “had only come without guns.” In 1870, the Camilla Massacre gave birth to Georgia’s first gun control measure when the General Assembly made it a crime to carry a firearm to a “public gathering.”“Public gathering” was defined to include political rallies and churches (churches were included because Ku Klux Klan members preferred to attack black churches, common meeting locations for black political activists, without being fired upon).In other words, the General Assembly ensured that the victims of such violence would be disarmed.In spite of its evil history, the ban on carrying firearms to public gatherings persists in Georgia to this day, with churches and political rallies still included in the definition. Only 9 states ban the carry of firearms in churches, with most of those being in the South.Only 9 states ban the carry of firearms to political rallies, and all but two of those are in the South.No other state in America bans the carry of firearms in “public gatherings” generally. Carrying firearms in Georgia was largely otherwise unregulated until 1910, when the misnamed “Atlanta race riots” resulted in the next major change to Georgia’s firearms laws.The “riots” in actuality were armed self defense by black residents of Atlanta’s Brownsville neighborhood against white mob violence.The “race riots” featured prominently in frequent editorials with such headlines in the Atlanta Journal as “Disarm the African Americanes.”The General Assembly obliged this media request by passing a law prohibiting carrying a pistol without a license.Licenses were to be issued by county “ordinaries” (now called probate judges).At the time, generally only white men were ordinaries, so there was some assurance that only the “right” people would get licenses. Today, 48 states issue licenses to carry firearms concealed, but only Georgia has them issued by a judge.The majority of states do not require any license at all to carry a firearm openly (i.e., not concealed).Georgia is in the minority, prohibiting the carrying of pistols openly without a license. On top of the licensing requirement, Georgia has the dubious distinction of prohibiting the licensed carry of firearms in more places than most other states, thanks largely to the 1870 “public gathering” law, which by its vagueness has been interpreted to include many places not specifically listed.Ironically, the “places off limits” most “sacred” to gun control advocates are the very places where the most sensationalized mass shooting tragedies have occurred:schools (Columbine, Virginia Tech), churches (Knoxville-Tennessee Valley Unitarian), courthouses (Atlanta – Brian Nichols) and restaurants (Killeen, Texas -- Luby’s Cafeteria). Each of these places was “off-limits” for law-abiding citizens to carry guns, and yet each was the scene of a tragic shooting.While it may seem counterintuitive to some that “gun free zones” are the locations where mass shootings tend to occur, the reason is very simple:Violent criminals do not pay attention to gun bans.In the words of crime researcher and FBI Agent Ed Davis, the violent, armed felons he studied “just laughed at gun laws.”The sad fact is that gun bans do not stop criminals from committing crimes.Gun bans affect only those predisposed to obey the law, and gun bans inform violent criminals where they are most likely to accomplish their goals without meeting armed resistance from their victims. Each of the places listed above has another factor in common.The police did not engage the murderer until he was finished with his crimes.This is not to criticize the police, who often arrive within minutes, but when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.No number of police officers will result in the omnipresence of police and no one seriously suggests we should live in a police state.Carrying a gun cannot guarantee anyone’s safety, but if someone chooses to take the responsibility for his or her own safety and carry a gun, the government should recognize the right to do so. In this year’s legislative session, GCO actively supported HB 89, which represented a major step in reversing the erosion of rights Georgians have experienced for 130 years.Those with firearms licenses now can carry their firearms in state parks, restaurants that serve alcohol, wildlife management areas, and public transportation.Unfortunately, it is still a crime for a person with a license to carry a firearm “to or while at” a public gathering, which “shall include, but shall not be limited to” churches, political rallies, sporting events, and publicly owned and operated buildings.GeorgiaCarry.Org supports relaxing this list, because we believe it is morally reprehensible to put good people in jail simply for having a firearm in the “wrong” location. Those who oppose relaxing the list of “off limits” places frequently cite that Georgia has no requirement for training to obtain a firearms license.They down play the fact that license applicants must undergo three separate state and federal fingerprint based criminal background checks, which checks weed out people who have even a misdemeanor drug conviction at any time in their lives (these same people are eligible to become law enforcement officers or enlist in the military, but they cannot get a firearms license in Georgia). Moreover, there is not a shred of evidence that a training requirement would serve any purpose other than burden both license applicants and the government employees processing the applications.The only study on the subject shows that states that do not require training are just as safe as states that do require training.Statistics show that firearms license holders commit fewer crimes than law enforcement officers.Fulton County, the state’s most populous county, has not revoked a single firearms license this year or last year.If the untrained holders of licenses were engaged in the random acts of violence feared, their licenses would be revoked as provided by law. In addition, those supporting a training requirement do not express the least bit of concern that many people are exempt from the off-limits places regardless of whether they have had training or even have firearms licenses.Such people as municipal court judges, state and federal judges, court clerks, wardens, district attorneys, assistant district attorneys, state court solicitors, assistant state court solicitors, the attorney general, United States attorneys, assistant United States attorneys, and coroners are free to carry firearms, with no license and with no training, in schools, courthouses, public buildings, and bars, with no restrictions on their consumption of alcohol while carrying.The General Assembly even added untrained constables to the list of people that may carry in schools and other off-limits locations this year, and not one public word of protest was uttered by gun control advocates.If those that advocate for mandatory training were sincere in their beliefs, they would rally for training for people who are allowed to carry firearms in the “sacred” places already. In truth, training requirements are a red herring, something brought up by those intent on making it harder, more expensive, and more burdensome to obtain a license, but with no real desire to improve safety.GeorgiaCarry.Org seeks a different path.We believe that law abiding Georgians have a human right to carry the firearm of their choice for any reason other than to harm innocent people while doing so, and we will work tirelessly toward legislation that will promote that goal.