ATLANTA – Supporters of greater controls on guns have rolled out their latest weapon, so to speak, in the debate at the Georgia General Assembly, namely President Obama.
During a Capitol press conference Friday, volunteers with Organizing for Action announced they would mobilize Obama’s campaign supporters to write letters, make phone calls and use social media as a way to sway legislators.
“This is the spark right now,” said Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah.
Jackson, who campaigned for Obama, is using his ties to the president to help push resolutions he will introduce to urge Congress to enact universal background checks of gun buyers.
The group is also supporting bills in the Georgia Senate to limit the capacity of automatic weapons.
The first event will be a Capitol rally at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. He was the unarmed Florida teen-ager killed with a handgun by a Neighborhood Watch volunteer.
“I appreciate my colleague, Sen. Jackson’s work on this issue,” said Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. “We have worked shoulder to shoulder, leaning forward, to put this issue on the front burner.”
Fort was the first to sponsor gun-control legislation this session.
Despite Fort’s bill having been available since the opening day of the General Assembly, it has yet to get a committee hearing or come up for a vote in the Senate.
However, the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee has already held a hearing on four Republican bills introduced later that would relax various gun controls or allow school administrators to carry weapons.
Committee Chairman Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, has announced he will roll all of the GOP gun bills together into one package for the House to consider, including a recent addition that would permit legislators to take pistols to the Capitol.
That makes Jackson leery, even though he’s a hunter who espouses the right to own guns.
“We feel that arming legislators, arming teachers, will not stop people from using guns,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to sit in the General Assembly in a heated debate knowing people are carrying guns.”
Nevertheless, Jackson has faith that the addition of Obama’s group will tip the balance in the legislature. He said it will be involved in other issues in the future, including the environment and sponsoring a celebration next month on the anniversary of the federal health reform known as ObamaCare.
“Right now, Organizing for Action is 35 days old. It’s just started up,” said Richard McDaniel, the Georgia group’s director. “It’s in the beginning stages.”