According to AJC, nearly seven in 10 Georgia voters responding to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll say they are opposed to legislation to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a license, and more than two-thirds oppose overturning the decades-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that guaranteed the right to an abortion.
The results suggest that Georgians do not want a return of the “culture wars,” the pursuit of hot-button topics that play to each party’s political base that are common during statewide election years.
The AJC poll involved 872 registered Georgia voters and was conducted Jan. 13-24 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. The margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.
Nearly 70% of poll respondents said they do not believe adults in Georgia should be allowed to carry concealed handguns in public without first getting a license. Almost 28% of respondents said they support the idea.
When contacted by the AJC, many voters said there should be some legal step taken before people are allowed to carry a concealed handgun in public.
Chelsea Leitch, a 31-year-old Decatur resident who works for a medical software company, said getting rid of the concealed carry licensing process is “setting ourselves up for failure.”
“How can we make getting guns so easy when we have so many shootings in schools?” Leitch said. “If there’s more barriers, it’s better. I don’t think getting rid of the barriers will make us safer.”
State Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a Dallas Republican, has filed legislation that would rid Georgia of the concealed carry licensing process. Gov. Brian Kemp — who faces a stiff GOP primary fight for reelection — said he supports passing permit-less carry legislation this year.
Evon Kelly, an 80-year-old retired small-business owner from Gainesville, said he opposes the idea of carrying guns without licenses because he thinks the Second Amendment is rooted in racism.
“Those who advocate being able to carry guns see themselves being enabled to protect themselves against others — largely people of color and largely Black people,” said Kelly, who is Black. “It astounds me, frankly.”
About 68% of Georgia voters polled said they did not want the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would allow states to put stricter restrictions on abortions. Under the 1973 court decision, women can get an abortion before a fetus would be viable on its own outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks after pregnancy. About 24% of voters think the law should be overturned.
Those numbers dipped slightly from a 2019 poll taken shortly after Georgia passed a law that would ban most abortions when a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, typically at about six weeks into a pregnancy. The federal court blocked that law from taking effect, and the case is being appealed.
In 2019, just more than 70% of voters said Roe v. Wade should stand, and a little more than 24% of voters wanted the law to be overturned.
Chris Tipper, an engineer from Sylvester, said abortion shouldn’t be legal.
“In the case where it was actually going to kill the mother or something, (abortion is OK), but I just can’t say I’m on board in general,” said Tipper, 50. “I get that for women, it’s their bodies and all that, but it’s a distinct human life apart from a mother or the father.”
Most people polled this year said Georgia’s abortion law shouldn’t take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned — about 54%. About 38% of respondents said the 2019 law should stand. About 8% said they did not know whether they support or oppose the law.
Those with opinions had strong ones — about 44% of those polled said they “strongly opposed” the legislation, and almost 26% “strongly support” it.
Opposition to the 2019 law has grown slightly since it first passed the General Assembly, when poll respondents were essentially split. According to the 2019 AJC poll, about 49% opposed the bill, with about 44% saying they supported it.
In the latest poll, Sharrow Hooks, a 48-year-old medical records coder from Albany, said there are several reasons a woman might seek an abortion, and she should have the option available.
“I’m of the mindset that a woman has the right to choose,” she said. “Just because a woman has a baby, it doesn’t make her a mother. Some women are not mother material and they know that. So why bring a life into the world if you’re not going to be responsible and do what you need to do as a parent?”
Leitch, the Decatur poll respondent, said she strongly opposes overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “Keep your religion out of my government.”
The poll was conducted Jan. 13-24 for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. It questioned 872 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.
Do you agree or disagree that adults in Georgia should be allowed to carry concealed handguns in public without a license?
Strongly agree – 21%
Somewhat agree – 7%
Somewhat disagree – 10%
Strongly disagree – 60%
Don’t know; refused to answer – 3%
In 1973 the Roe v. Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Would you like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe v. Wade decision or not?
Yes, should be overturned – 24%
No, should not be overturned – 68%
Don’t know; refused to answer – 8%
A 2019 Georgia law bans virtually all abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape and incest that are reported to authorities. The law is currently blocked from taking effect by a federal court. If the U.S. Supreme Court allows states to impose abortion restrictions, do you support or oppose the Georgia law from going into effect?
Strongly support – 26%
Somewhat support – 12%
Somewhat oppose – 10%
Strongly oppose – 44%
Don’t know; refused to answer – 8%
Poll information: The survey was administered by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia. The AJC-SPIA Poll was conducted Jan. 13-24 and included a total of 872 registered voters in Georgia. The calculated margin of error for the total sample is +/-3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.