The Democratic candidate for Georgia governor insists she just wanted to start a "conversation" about guns. But if Stacey Abrams had been successful in the state legislature, some of those conversations would be over and law enforcement would be reading Miranda rights to arrested gun owners in the Peach State.
Just two years ago, as a state lawmaker, Abrams co-sponsored House Bill 731, legislation that makes the Clinton-era assault weapons ban seem timid in comparison. And when pushed by CNN's Jake Tapper to explain whether she supports gun confiscation, Abrams dodged.
“In the state of Georgia, you introduce legislation to start conversations,” Abrams said. “I am happy to work with the legislature to figure out how we make an assault weapons ban work.”
The "conversation" in this case was short. The Abrams bill wasn’t even referred to committee, perhaps because it would have enforced some of the strictest gun regulation in the nation. Law-abiding citizens one day, if HB731 had passed, many gun owners would be at risk of becoming felons the next.
Abrams would have given Georgia residents 90 days and two options: Destroy their newly illegal guns themselves or “surrender such assault weapon or large capacity magazine to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.” Doing otherwise wouldn’t be wise.
The Abrams bill didn’t just make a laundry list of ammunition, magazines, and firearms illegal. It would have changed the law “to require seizure of such by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.” In other words, it would have mandated confiscation, a fact that Tapper didn’t let Abrams get away from on CNN.
“Well, just to be clear, you were one of six co-sponsors of this bill, House Bill 731, introduced Jan. 11, 2016, not that long ago," Tapper responded. "Your co-sponsor told reporters the law — quote — 'would require gun owners of these particular models to turn their guns in.’”
“And, again, my point is this: The legislation introduced was the beginning of a conversation," Abrams shot back. "I am absolutely certain that, were we to pass this in Georgia, we would have a conversation about grandfathering in, about whether or not people would turn their guns in, whether there would be buybacks. There are a number of approaches to take to accomplish this goal.”
The goal was much more than a simple assault weapons ban, though. The legislation didn’t just ban scary-looking guns like AR-15 and AK-47-style rifles. It also expanded the definition of assault weapon to include certain semiautomatic shotguns and semiautomatic pistols.
Abrams isn’t the first Democrat who has refused to speak candidly to gun owners this election cycle. Just this month Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., warned hunters they could lose their out-of-state hunting licenses if they showed up to vote on Election Day. Normally this kind of misinformation gets ignored. Thankfully, though, not by Tapper.
The CNN newsman knew Abrams' record and the legislation managing to pin Abrams on an issue she understandably tries to avoid in deep-red Georgia. This was made even more remarkable by Tapper’s background. Before cable news, he worked briefly in 1994 at a gun-control group that, as the Washington Post reported, would later become the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.