The Exchange Club of Southwest Georgia was recently paid a visit by Curtis Jenkins, a former member of the Georgia General Assembly and a nation board member of the National Rifle Association who spoke about gun rights at the groups meeting November 18. Jenkins, who says “I’m just a country lawyer,” touts a resume that would make many gun rights advocates tickled.
Jenkins described his coming up in Georgia and how that tied in with his love of firearms. He joined the NRA at 13 years old, partially because an older brother joined and he figured if the brother was doing it, then it had to be cool. At 18, he switched it to a lifetime membership and has been active with the NRA ever since.
“I figured we were pretty much safe here in Georgia,” he said regarding the push in many localities to restrict the ownership of firearms. When he was in college in the Atlanta area, he learned of a hearing at the General Assembly to discuss possible gun control legislation. What he learned there surprised him.
“I learned there were indeed people in Georgia who would take away our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” he told the crowd.
Jenkins helped pass Georgia’s concealed carry law in 1996. Shortly afterwards, he helped pass Georgia’s preemption law, which makes it illegal for communities to pass more restrictive measures regarding guns, which Jenkins said was to make it easier for citizens to know what the law was in a given location.
In 1999, Jenkins made waves when he proposed the first law that would make it illegal to sue firearms manufacturers for gun related deaths that didn’t stem for a flaw in the product. Jenkins described how he came about with the idea. “I was listening to the radio and heard that Chicago was suing gun makers for gun deaths,” he said. He decided then and there to do something about it. “After all,” he recalled thinking, “can Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell be far behind?”
He then recounted an anecdote about receiving a message that a radio station in Albany wanted to talk about the bill he had proposed. He looked at the number and told a staff member that it wasn’t an Albany number. His staff member replied that it was indeed an Albany number. Albany, New York that is.
Jenkins then spoke about other pro-gun measure that have recently passed the general assembly which increase places where people with Georgia Weapons Licenses are free to carry their firearms. He also discussed recent Supreme Court cases, such as Heller versus the District of Columbia which ruled that firearm ownership was an individual right, and McDonald versus the City of Chicago which ruled that states and local governments must guarantee that right as well.
He then spoke about a bill in Congress right now, House Resolution 822, which would require any state that allows permits to recognize the permit from any other state which requires them.
Jenkins concluded by discussing the firearms training that the NRA offers to groups like the Boy Scouts of America and 4H, as well as the Eddie Eagle firearm safety program used by many police departments throughout the nation.