SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A group of democrats on Monday stood in front of the Georgia Statehouse and asked that the governor to call a special legislative session on gun control and gun safety laws.
On Tuesday, republican Representative Ron Stephens from Savannah said it’s never going to happen.
“This is the same knee jerk reaction we’ve had in the past with defund the police, it’s a knee jerk reaction by the other side,” Stephens said.
Stephens touted mental health reform he said was approved this past session by the Republican controlled legislature. He says mental health problems are the root cause of the nation’s mass shootings and not easy access to weapons.
“I hope we’ll take a deep breath and do the things that we’re already doing,” said Stephens. “We’re working on the core problem instead of going after these phantoms that won’t solve any issue at all. The core problem is mental health, we’re working on that in Georgia and we’re putting our money where our mouth is.”
Democrats, however, say that republican leaders have done nothing in the wake of a mass shooting last year in Atlanta where a shooter bought a weapon on the same day that he killed 8 women in a massage parlor.
Democratic Senator Michelle Au of Johns Creek who took part in a press conference last week said “from our standpont we are not going to give up because the environment around gun safety is changing.
“And with each successive tragedy, I think that we’re creating an environment where people are going to demand that our leaders at least start to have this conversation in public about passing or at least discussing common sense gun safety legislation,” said Au.
Democrats say they want common sense gun safety laws, including a universal background check, having a waiting period and safe storage laws.
“Again, very common-sense things that are supported by a majority of Georgians,” said Au who is also a doctor.
While Stephens said the core issue surrounds mental health access, Au who is a physician says that “innocent lives are senselessly lost in this brutally efficient way that results from the easy access to guns.”
Stephens disputed that there should be restrictions on gun purchases including Red Flag laws although he says changes may be needed in the case of domestic violence. He also said there are background checks now although some would dispute how thorough those are compared to the universal background check proposals.