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Local News

Georgia Senate advances tax break for firearm safety devices as lawmakers push gun-related incentives


Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder
February 13, 2024

The Senate has passed a tax break on firearm safes, trigger locks and other safety devices as incentives for secure storage – and sometimes gun purchases too – gain traction in Georgia.

The bill, sponsored by Marietta Republican Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, easily cleared the Senate Tuesday. Her bill would exempt safes and devices that temporarily disable firearms when not in use from state and local sales tax.

“All of us want to protect our children from accidental injuries, including those of us who are lawful gun owners,” Kirkpatrick said.

 The proposal would cost the state about $1.6 million in revenue each year, and local governments would collectively forego about $1.4 million. 

 Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder (file photo)

The Senate had already signed off on a more controversial tax perk last week. That proposal, which passed with a party-line vote, would create a five-day sales tax holiday for safety devices as well as guns, scopes and ammunition.

That bill’s sponsor, Dallas Republican Sen. Jason Anavitarte, argued his bill was needed to help encourage people to start hunting and help control Georgia’s deer population.

These proposals are advancing as a similar bill is on the move in the House. Rep. Mark Newton, an Augusta Republican, is sponsoring a measure that would create a $300 income tax credit for safe storage devices and training on safe gun handling.

The total amount of tax credit allowed to be claimed each year would be capped at $10 million.

Newton said his proposal would help keep firearms out of the hands of children and criminals. He said more people may be inclined to own a gun in response to the “defund the police movement,” reports of gang violence and law enforcement hiring challenges.

“We think this will be a good way to encourage people, if they feel the need to protect themselves, to obtain a firearm, and if they’re not comfortable with it or they didn’t grow up that way, they can get their safe training and they can have a secure place to store it,” Newton said.

The concept of using a tax incentive to spur safer firearm storage gained broader appeal in Georgia after a gun rights advocacy group, GA2A, came out in support of a Democrat-sponsored bill that would create a $300 income tax credit for safe storage devices.

“GA2A supports any legislation that would lessen the financial burden of possessing and storing firearms,” the group said in a statement last month.

That bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michelle Au, has signed on in support of the GOP proposal.

“I’m deeply gratified that our Republican colleagues have come to agree that prioritizing safe storage and other measures to encourage responsible gun ownership is a crucial part of keeping our families safer,” Au, a Johns Creek Democrat, said Tuesday. “I will continue to support these bills and hope that we can continue this conversation around the safe storage of firearms.”

Democrats, including Au, have also proposed going beyond incentives and making it a misdemeanor to leave a loaded gun where a child can access it. Au’s bill received a hearing last year but did not advance.

Sen. Elena Parent, an Atlanta Democrat, called on her colleagues to take up her version of that proposal Tuesday after a 3-year-old in her district shot himself in the face over the weekend with a gun that had been left unsecured and died. The owner of the firearm was arrested and charged with murder in the second degree and cruelty in the second degree, WSB-TV reported

Parent said the adults in the child’s home failed him, but so have others, including state lawmakers. And she argued her proposal is designed to prevent such tragedies.

“We have the power to help lower the numbers of accidental gun deaths. We need laws to clarify what gun owners’ responsibilities are so that they understand them and can abide by them and then have them know what the consequences are when they fail to follow the law,” Parent said.

“This is not to take away anyone’s right or access to firearms. It is simply saying that individuals in Georgia need to exercise responsible gun ownership in the presence of minors,” she said. 

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.