ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation Tuesday allowing Georgians to carry concealed firearms without a permit.

This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

The Georgia Senate’s Republican majority passed the bill late last month, voting along party lines. The state House of Representatives followed suit two days later, also in a party-line vote.

“Senate Bill 319 makes sure law-abiding Georgians … can protect themselves without having to have permission from their state government,” Kemp said Tuesday at a signing ceremony held inside a sporting goods store in Douglasville. “The Constitution of the United States gives us that right.”

Tuesday’s signing ceremony drew a great deal of attention, with legislative Democrats who opposed the permit-less carry bill and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in next month’s Republican gubernatorial primary, weighing in.

Democrats held a news conference a short distance from the signing ceremony shortly before Kemp’s event, accusing him of pandering to GOP primary voters and gun-rights groups.

“It appears that our governor is feeling the pressure to bow to extremists and special interests,” said state Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta. “It’s a sad day across Georgia when our leaders care more about their political careers than ensuring our communities are safe.”

Perdue endorsed the legislation, then took credit for it.

“I think that’s great,” Perdue said of the bill during a news conference outside the Georgia Capitol. “It’s too bad it took four years to get it done and too bad it took me getting in the race.”

Kemp also signed legislation Tuesday authorizing out-of-state residents who are licensed to carry firearms in their home state to carry in Georgia.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.