SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill into law Tuesday afternoon allowing Georgia residents to carry handguns in public without a license or background check.

Republicans have said SB 319, or the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act, is needed to allow people to more easily protect themselves following a rise in crime.

“SB 319 makes sure that law-abiding Georgians — law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters and your family, too — to protect themselves without having to have permission from your state government,” Kemp said at a bill signing ceremony at Gable’s Sporting Goods in Douglasville.

“The Constitution of the United States gives us that right — not the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, Democrats say it does away with a background check that was triggered by the license application, arguing that will fuel shooting deaths.

Watch the full press conference below.

Ahead of Tuesday’s bill signing ceremony, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said he and other mayors from the state penned an open letter to Kemp asking him not to sign off on the bill.

“If this bill becomes law, it simply becomes easier for people with a criminal history to purchase a gun through a private sale to carry a weapon in our community without any background check,” said Johnson.

Prior to SB 319, Georgia required people to obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun outside their own homes, businesses or cars, although people could carry rifles and shotguns in many places without a permit and carry unloaded weapons in gun cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report