Opinion Editorials

Micah is known for always standing strong on issues of importance and he is also known for speaking the truth. Below you will find Opinion pieces written by Rep. Gravley to keep in constituents informed on where he stands!


Second Amendment Rights at Stake…A message from Rep. Micah Gravley

August 2016

There is one issue in politics that we can count on year after year. No matter the circumstance, this subject matter is always a point of contention in General Assemblies across America and on the Federal level in Washington. So what is the issue that just won’t go away? Ironically, it’s an issue, that I feel, shouldn’t be up for discussion or an issue at all- Our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

For decades we have heard both sides of the argument. Unfortunately, recent attacks, domestic and foreign, fuel the debate of Gun Rights vs. Gun Control. And believe me; this discussion is not going away.  The Constitution grants each and every American the “right to bear arms”. However, gun control laws are constantly popping up. Every argument under the sun is brought up in order to make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to obtain and keep their guns.

Here is one of my favorite gun control arguments- “When the founding fathers wrote that amendment, they were using muskets, not an AK 47”.  Technology has advanced a bit, but in reality, our founding fathers had the same weaponry the English loyalists had. Think of this way, if we were to listen to this argument, it would be the same as allowing the Government to bring a gun, to a knife fight; because, by “gun control” standards, you as an everyday citizen aren’t allowed to have a gun. You have to use the knife. Does this mean that I think every Tom, Dick and Harry should have access to nuclear weapons? No. But I do think that Tom, Dick and Harry (law abiding citizens) should be allowed to protect themselves and their families against an intruder, a robbery or yes, even the Government. And, the 2nd Amendment protects that right.

This summer alone, numerous gun control bills have been introduced on the Federal level, with Democrats even staging a “sit-in” on the house floor. Like the Federal level, Georgia has also seen its fair share of pro / anti gun legislation. In the 2016 Legislative Session, we were presented with numerous gun bills, falling on both sides of the argument. The most controversial legislation came in the form House Bill 731 (gun control) and House Bill 859 (gun rights).  House Bill 731 would ban commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and require their confiscation. The bill would also ban the possession, sale, transport, and distribution or use of certain firearms defined as “assault weapons.” Going further, HB 731 would require seizure of these firearms by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. On the other end of the spectrum, was House Bill 859, also known as, “Campus Carry.” I co-sponsored HB 544 the “Campus Carry Act of 2015 and I was proud to co-sign HB 859.  HB 859 would have allowed anyone with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except for dormitories, Greek housing or at athletic events. Currently, Georgia law prohibits the procession of firearms on college campuses. Have you seen some of our college campuses? They are huge. Not to mention, more than a few are located in less than safe neighborhoods in downtown Atlanta.

I cannot support any infringement upon the rights of law abiding citizens who responsibly enjoy their 2nd Amendment right.  Furthermore, I will not support weakening my constituent’s ability to defend themselves when studies and statistics have repeatedly shown that restrictive gun laws only embolden those who have no respect for the law.  This puts law abiding citizens in harm’s way, unable to protect themselves and their families.   I grieve for the families of those who have lost children and loved ones to the senseless acts of criminals who disregard our laws.

I am a husband and the father of 3 little girls.  I am also a proud gun owner.  My father taught me at an early age how to enjoy the responsibility of gun ownership.  Some of my most favorite memories with my father growing up were those of our many hunting and camping trips.  However, I understood then and even more so now, that the 2nd Amendment was not and is not about hunting.  I believe Thomas Jefferson states it best “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.  Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

People who have the capacity or will to kill another human being are going to find a way to do so, be it by gun, knife or rock. And I certainly don’t believe citizens who actually follow the rules should be punished for the actions of criminals.


 

Religious Freedom Under the Gold Dome- Rep. Micah Gravley

February 2016

The past few legislative sessions have been fueled with debate, controversy and headlines regarding Religious Freedom measures. In June 2014, the nation turned a watchful eye as the Supreme Court would make a ruling on the well known, “Hobby Lobby Case”. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby brought the topic of Religious Freedom into the national spotlight, when the privately held company refused to provide certain types of birth control required under the newly adopted, Affordable Healthcare Act. It is important to note that the company did not refuse payment for all birth controls, only the medicines they felt chemically induced abortions after conception, a practice against their sincerely held religious beliefs.

After review from the Supreme Court, a landmark decision was made in favor of Hobby Lobby. Why is this important? It’s important for a couple of reasons. It was the first time the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was used in a case that applied to a corporation, not an individual. Secondly, had it not been for protections provided by federal RFRA, Hobby Lobby would not have won that case and as a result would have shut down. The Green family took the stance early on, that they would in fact close all 600 stores before being forced to provide abortion inducing birth controls.

Most recently, the Supreme Court Ruling of Obergefell vs. Hodges, which allows same sex marriages nationwide, has also dramatically increased the number of potential conflicts between government action and your religious freedom.

With the exception of the proposed state RFRA, which was brought forward prior to the Obergefell decision, the General Assembly has been flooded this year in attempts to strengthen and solidify our First Amendment right. The “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), the “Pastor Protection Act”, the “Act to Protect Religious Freedom” and most recently, a bipartisan bill introduced last week, the “Georgia Student Religious Liberty Act” have been hot topics under the Gold Dome. While there are many religious measures on the table, all proposals are different, and offer separate protections.

  • SB 129- RFRA is intended to provide the same level of protection of religious freedom from state and local governments that the Federal RFRA offers from the federal government.
  • SB 284- FADA is intended to prevent the government from discriminating against any person on the basis of their sincerely held religious belief in traditional marriage.
  • HB 757- Pastor Protection Act would ensure that Pastors/Rabbis are protected from being forced to perform same sex marriages.
  • HB 756- Protect Religious Freedom Act would allow businesses to refuse event participation that would violate their religious beliefs.
  • HB 816- Student Religious Liberty Act would protect those who want to voluntarily participate in prayer during certain school activities.

The most common question surrounding religious measures is, “why are these bills needed to protect something already guaranteed by the First Amendment in the Constitution?” Because friends, this is a real problem; a problem that Americans and Georgians face daily. Don’t believe me? Ask a Coach, who fears the loss of his job for voluntarily praying for his teams well being. Ask the student in Georgia, who had his 3rd place state championship win stripped because he was wearing a headband reading, Isaiah 40:30-31. Ask the Muslim woman in a Georgia court who was forced to take off her headscarf by a Judge, who found it a distraction. Ask the bakery owner who lost his business because it was against his religious belief to participate in a same sex wedding ceremony. These incidents will only increase, if further action, on the state level is not taken. Unfortunately, Federal Law only applies to federal cases. That is why more than 30 other states found it necessary to adopt protections similar to the Federal law passed in 1993. Georgia should have taken similar steps to protect religious freedom long ago.

I challenge you to think of this issue a bit differently. If all amendments in the Constitution are a guarantee, no questions asked, why do states continue to pass gun laws? After all, the right to bear arms is stated clearly in the Second Amendment. Essentially, the same folks that are asking you to check your gun at the door are also asking you to check your religious beliefs at the door. Personally? I have an issue with that. I’ll leave you with this. Take “religion” out of the equation. You are left with “Freedom of Belief”. Freedom of belief is a beautiful thing. It’s what our Country was founded on. You and I are free to believe what we want. Simply because I feel one way, does not mean you have to agree with me. In fact, you have every right to disagree! That’s what makes this Country so great. Freedom of thought, opinion and belief, religious or otherwise, makes America…. “America”. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to give up on America. And I am most certainly not willing or ready to check my gun or “my beliefs” at the door.