Several candidates for the District 40 state Senate seat said a recent state law expanding gun owners’ rights may have gone too far, but they agreed on few other topics.
Incumbent Sen. Fran Millar, the Republican representing the district that covers Dunwoody and portions of Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and north DeKalb County, said he was one of two members of his party to vote against the bill, which had been nicknamed the “guns everywhere bill.”
“The bill went too far letting you carry in a bar,” Millar said. “Guns and liquor do not mix.”
Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill, titled the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, on April 23. The law adds to the list of places gun owners may legally carry weapons, and allows certain property owners, such as churches and bars, to decide whether patrons may carry guns on their property, according to news accounts.
During an April 26 candidates’ forum sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, Millar, the two Democrats seeking nomination to run against him, and state Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) all criticized the bill.
Republican Dick Anderson, who is challenging Millar in the May 20 primary, said the government did not have the power to take away rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I know many rights I have lost in my lifetime,” he said. “I would love for my grandchildren to live in a world that is free, like I did when I was young.”
Both Tamara Johnson and Ben Truman, who are seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate District 40 seat on May 20, said the new gun law went too far.
“I think we went way too far,” Johnson said.
Truman said he, too, had disagreements with the new law. “I don’t think firearms belong in places of worship,” he said.
Taylor’s primary opponent, Brad Goodchild, did not take part in the forum.
The four candidates for Senate described themselves in different ways.
Millar emphasized his community involvement and experience in the Legislature, where he’s held a seat in the House or Senate since 1999. “I’ve been doing this a long time,” he said. “People know me. I’m able to get things done. I get bills passed.”
Anderson countered that he did not intend to become a “career politician” and that he would “follow the Constitution.” “I will represent the people of the 40th District, what they really want, not what special interests keep asking for.”
Truman said he wanted to bring new ideas to state government. “I’m here to spread ideas,” he said.
Johnson described herself as an advocate willing to fight for her beliefs. “I’m a better listener than I am a talker,” she said. “I am a woman of action.”
Asked to name their top issues, candidates emphasized different areas.
Truman said he wanted to increase participation in the workforce by “millennials,” people born between 1980 and 2000. “Where current leaders tout Georgia as a good place to do business, workers are getting lost in the mix … they need relief.”
Johnson wanted to boost education. “Everything here in Georgia is education …,” she said. “Our children are our first priority.”
Anderson wanted to reduce government regulation of business. “We’re not going to create jobs by government action,” he said. “We’re going to create jobs by government inaction. … Government feeds on itself.”
Millar cited education and health care. He said educational reform was needed because “kids are bored.” “Education is the name of the game,” he said. “It’s 56 percent of our [state] budget. Number Two is health care. We now have 16 percent of our budget and growing in Medicaid. We’ve got to get a handle on it.”