In an unusual twist of electoral fate, not one but both of Georgia’s sitting Republican United States senators face Democrat challengers in a runoff election scheduled for Jan. 5, 2021, just two days after the 117th Congress will have been seated. The Second Amendment does not by name appear on the Georgia ballot, but it might as well.
If both incumbent senators – David Perdue and Kelley Loeffler – are defeated next month, the new Senate will be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, which means that two weeks later, on Jan. 20 when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, his newly installed vice president, Kamala Harris, becomes the tie-breaking, de facto 101st senator.
Neither Biden nor Harris is friend to the Second Amendment, and neither are the two Democrats – Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock – running against Perdue and Loeffler. Their election would be a toxic mixture for the majority of Georgians who are now and historically have been strong backers of the right to keep and bear arms, both philosophically and in practice.
An evenly split Senate resulting from a twin Republican defeat in Georgia next month will have profound impact on Second Amendment issues coming before the Senate, in terms of both legislation and confirmations. In this regard, it is important to understand where Georgia’s pair of Democrat challengers now fighting to join the Senate, stand on such issues.
Even a cursory look at where Ossoff (who is challenging Perdue) and Warnock (Loeffler’s adversary) stand on matters relating to firearms reveals they are bitter enemies of gun rights, especially as those views are held and practiced by most Georgians.
Where both Perdue and Loeffler have been strongly endorsed by the National Rifle Association (the gold standard according to which most voters turn in order to determine if a candidate is pro-Second Amendment), Ossoff and Warnock have been warmly embraced by major gun-control organizations, including the Giffords Law Center, the Brady Campaign, and Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.
Beyond these endorsements, Ossoff and Warnock share positions on firearms far to the left of those held by a majority of Georgians. These include advocating for a ban on the AR-15 rifle, the most popular and commonly held rifle in America, as well as on so-called “high capacity” magazines for rifles and handguns. Nor do facts support this particular gun control position held by Ossoff and Warnock. According to the FBI, for example, in 2019 there were 367 Georgia homicides carried out with firearms, but only 14 involved rifles of any type.
The two Democrats also support forcing gun owners to demonstrate “high qualification and compelling specific needs” before being allowed to possess or carry certain firearms.
Most Georgians, on the other hand, instinctively understand it is the citizenry that serves as the first line of defense against criminals, which is why there are more than one million concealed carry permits in the wallets of Georgians.
It also accounts for the dramatic increase in firearms sales in Georgia this year, responding to the violence that wracked cities across the country, including in the state’s capital city of Atlanta.
Gun control measures such as those that both Ossoff and Warnock would support as senators clearly place them outside the mainstream of Georgia voters.
Voters who strongly support the Second Amendment were key to Gov. Brian Kemp’s 2018 victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, just as they have been in every cycle going back to the 1994 election that saw a Republican majority elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in four decades and the installation of Georgian Newt Gingrich as Speaker.
If these two hard-left Democrats are elected on Jan. 5, they would be reliable votes for virtually every gun control measure pushed by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, both of whom have themselves publicly supported extreme measures, including making the AR-15 rifle platform and high-capacity magazines illegal and levying heavy taxes on both firearms and ammunition.
The Jan. 5 Georgia runoff election truly is a defining moment for the Second Amendment in the Peach State.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986 to 1990. He served as an official with the CIA during the 1970s.
Amy Swearer is an attorney and Second Amendment expert. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of any other person or entity.