Mayor Learnard supports stricter state gun control laws, letter says

Peachtree City Mayor Kim Learnard. Official city portrait.
Peachtree City Mayor Kim Learnard. Official city portrait.

Peachtree City Mayor Kim Learnard is listed among more than 40 — mostly Democrat — mayors across Georgia who are pressing for more controls on the sale and possession of guns in Georgia.

Mayor Learnard is listed as supporting new and tougher laws in five areas, the likely most controversial is one aimed at tighter controls on certain semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The five are:

“• Continued enhancement of behavioral health supports and funding.

“• A level playing field for background checks that includes all purchases or transfers.

“• Mechanisms that identify and prevent potential purchases by those who have been demonstrated to be at risk for illegal activity with guns.

“• A focus on the specific weapons that are demonstrated to create rapid destruction through high capacity or rapid fire action.

“• Requirements for safe storage of guns.”

The Citizen has emailed Mayor Learnard and members of the Peachtree City Council the following questions:

I have received an email copy of a letter from “Mayors of Georgia cities” to Gov. Kemp and the General Assembly that urges legislation be passed that would significantly increase regulations on privately owned guns in Georgia.

You are listed as signing the letter: “Mayor Kim Learnard, Peachtree City”

Among the five areas of new legal requirements being supported include this one:

• A focus on the specific weapons that are demonstrated to create rapid destruction through high capacity or rapid fire action.

The letter (copied as an attachment) is specifically from mayors of Georgia municipalities.

First, did you indeed sign the letter copied below, and do you indeed support the items being sought as listed in the letter?

If you did sign the letter, please answer some questions for publication:

1. How was this an appropriate action of the mayor of Peachtree City, thereby representing an official position of Peachtree City, its government and its 38,000-plus citizens, as opposed to your signature as a private individual representing only your private, personal viewpoint?

2. How many of the City Council knew in advance about your official signature?

3. How many of the city’s population do you think your position accurately represents?

4. Will you be affixing your official signature as mayor of Peachtree City to any other controversial state and national policy and cultural debates?

5. If so, how do you justify using your official position to make broad statements that by implication represent the political and cultural positions of your constituents?

Any statement you would care to make in defense of your unprecedented action will be published without editing.

The letter from the more than 40 mayors is reproduced below:

September 1, 2023

Governor Kemp and members of the Georgia General Assembly,

We write you today as Mayors of Georgia cities who are urging you to act to reduce the increasing gun violence that impacts the communities that we serve.

Many of us are parents and grandparents, and our professional backgrounds include the fields of business, finance, law, religious ministry, education and agriculture.

We believe that there is no single act that will immediately end the epidemic of homicides, suicides and gun injuries that scar our communities.

However, just as decades of progress have led to cleaner air, healthier drinking water and safer roadways, you have in your authority the ability to diminish gun violence.

We currently live with the reality that gun violence has become the number one killer of children, and in which Georgia has become a top exporter of illegal weapons.

We come to you with this request because our residents rely upon us to be the front line of efforts to enhance their quality of life.

Specifically, we seek:

• Continued enhancement of behavioral health supports and funding.

• A level playing field for background checks that includes all purchases or transfers.

• Mechanisms that identify and prevent potential purchases by those who have been demonstrated to be at risk for illegal activity with guns.

• A focus on the specific weapons that are demonstrated to create rapid destruction through high capacity or rapid fire action.

• Requirements for safe storage of guns.


Mayor Buddy Duke, Adel

Mayor Ben Davis, Alapaha

Mayor Kaye Riley, Argyle

Mayor Kelly Girtz, Athens-Clarke County

Mayor Travis Wimbush, Blakely

Mayor John Ernst, Brookhaven

Mayor Betty Cason, Carrolton

Mayor Brian Mock, Chamblee

Mayor Bianca Motley Broom, College Park

Mayor JoAnne Taylor, Dahlonega

Mayor David Pennington, Dalton

Mayor Patti Garrett, Decatur

Mayor Joseph Geierman, Doraville

Mayor Lynn Deutsch, Dunwoody

Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham, East Point

Mayor Buddy Pittman, Eastman

Mayor John Reid, Eatonton

Mayor Aprill Adside-Smith, Gordon

Mayor Charlene Glover, Greenville

Mayor Russ Dean, Guyton

Mayor Liz Ordiales, Hiawassee

Mayor Carlos Duffy, Jackson

Mayor Linda Wilkes-Davis, Keysville

Mayor Fred Perriman, Madison

Mayor Al Lane, Marshallville

Mayor Lavern Clancy, Midway

Mayor Mary Parham-Coplan, Milledgeville

Mayor Tamon Frost, Nicholls

Mayor Kim Learnard, Peachtree City

Mayor Arline Chapman, Porterdale

Mayor Chris Stacy, Riceboro

Mayor Donita Bowen, Santa Claus

Mayor Van Johnson, Savannah

Mayor Blue Cole, Sharpsburg

Mayor Barbara Bender, Snellville

Mayor David Keener, Social Circle

Mayor Allen Haywood, Sparta

Mayor Jonathan McCollar, Statesboro

Mayor Joyce Denson, Toomsboro

Mayor Vince Williams, Union City

Mayor Tom Dickson, Varnell

Mayor Dodd Ferrelle, Winterville

Mayor Andrea Gibby, Young Harris


  1. America’s largest cities have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Every night on the news we see the result…crime and violence run amuck and citizens have no means to protect themselves and/or others. Why does that NOT happen “in a small town?” Because citizens have the means to deter violent people. But you get what you vote for.

    • Rev. Epps – You have a degree in social science, so I am surprised that you would post this Trey Hoffman-type simplistic explanation for a very complicated topic. You know that population density, anonymity, economical inequality, family structure, etc. etc., etc. are all important factors in crime rates for urban vs. rural settings. Offering this weak, single explanation of self-protection by firearms amounts to sloganism.

      You are better than this as you show most weeks in your column.

    • Tweety1951/Fr. Epps—To your credit, you have made no secret concerning your identity in this forum. However, in this case, it is heart-breaking.

      I have to wonder how anyone can spend their entire life following Jesus the Christ, and yet know Him so little. You have missed His entire message! (As Jesus says to one of His disciples, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you do not know me yet, Philip; nor recognize clearly who I am?”

      The Founder of our shared faith died violently outside “a small town” (as you flippantly introduce that odious song). He died, not teaching ( as you do) that citizens should use more violence to “deter violent people.”

      He died by absorbing our violence, forgiving it, and thus transforming it into Love. This is Who the Universal Christ is.

      Our country has too many guns. Too many people dying because of their use.

      Too few laws regulating the sale and owning of them.
      Too few people like Mayor Learnard willing to take a stand.
      And too few religious leaders brave enough to speak the truth in Love.

      The traditional closing blessing after the Episcopal church service urges us, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

      Hardly compatible with “Go in fear and shoot at will.”

    • So ignorant to blithely ask, “Why does that not happen in a small town?” when IT DOES! In 2017 a gunman slaughtered 26 people at church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, definitely a SMALL TOWN in a rural county. And Uvalde, the site of Texas’ most deadly school shooting, is no big city.

      As STF points out, a lot of variables make up crime rates, and you can defend your right to keep and bear arms by clinging to the savage lie that “guns don’t kill people,” but they DO. Cars also kill people, which is why we make young people take driver’s ed and why we require folks who want to drive be licensed. These things are common sense — but you whinge about common sense gun control?

      And you can quit pretending that gun ownership for personal protection (or to make yourself the proverbial “good guy with a gun”) is actually what stops gun violence: a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2022 found “People living with handgun owners died by homicide at twice the rate of their neighbors in gun-free homes. That difference was driven largely by homicides at home, which were three times more common among people living with handgun owners.”

      Yes, people kill people — but people with guns are exponentially more effective at killing people. It makes no sense to oppose common sense gun control if you really care about gun safety and saving lives.

      After Sandy Hook we as a nation had a choice to make: we could keep clinging to our guns and fiercely oppose every gun control measure because 2nd Amendment, or we could protect our children. We chose our guns. You, Tweety, should live with that shame.

      I applaud Mayor Leonard for at least making the gesture toward caring about stopping gun violence and wish her luck with the other Tweety-minded in PTC.

  2. When you elected a communist what did you expect-However, just as decades of progress have led to cleaner air, healthier drinking water and safer roadways, you have in your authority the ability to diminish gun violence. NONE I repeat NONE of those is a PROTECTED right in the Constitution. People have started thinking that taking people’s rights away is normal. Whatever happened to teaching basic civics in school?

  3. The Devil loves to hide in the details:

    Continued enhancement of behavioral health supports and funding.- whatever that means. I read, more government grift without tangible results…like the ‘war on poverty’.

    • A level playing field for background checks that includes all purchases or transfers.- level field? Are the mayor’s suggesting that some folks get greaterr scrutinizing than others? What group would that be? Same background check form, same background check performed. I’m confused…see below.

    • Mechanisms that identify and prevent potential purchases by those who have been demonstrated to be at risk for illegal activity with guns. – oh, these must be the ones not on a level playing field described above! But wait, they want deeper checks on these people? Weird. This is Star Chamber stuff…we, the government have decided (without any criminal conviction) that you are too great a threat to maintain your civil right to own a firearm. BC specifically looks for criminal convictions and state imposed mental health interdiction . Here’s an idea, convict violent criminals or those who use a weapon in the commission of a crime and make the penalty hurt…regardless of their ‘class’.

    • A focus on the specific weapons that are demonstrated to create rapid destruction through high capacity or rapid fire action.- what exactly does “focus on” mean? More government double-speak. That phrase “rapid destruction” describes an automatic machine gun or flame thrower or grenade and these are all already highly regulated. A committed killer can kill as rapidly as he can pull a trigger…or just drive his SUV through a parade.

    • Requirements for safe storage of guns.- love this one…how exactly is this to be enforced and who defines safe storage? Trigger lock okay or fireproof half-ton, $1000 safe required? Will the cops be given a list of all gun owners in the city and search their property for said government approved storage device without need of a specific warrant? Obviously, we really can’t know who has guns so all citizens will be searched not only for storage but for the very guns that they may or may not possess.

    This is all government babble to obscure your attention from their failing to secure a safe and healthy environment. It’s a power grab. And I knew this before our neighboring county indicted a former US President, his lawyers and supporters for questioning an obviously rigged election. These people (democratic politicians) don’t care a bit about gun violence…on the contrary when it supports their agenda it is hailed as justified and righteous. Stop being a tool for your own submission.

  4. The Devil lurks in the details:

    Continued enhancement of behavioral health supports and funding. – Whatever that means….grift and government control of how you think.

    A level playing field for background checks that includes all purchases or transfers. – is this an insinuation that some citizens have a deeper background check than other? Same form and same background check applies to all, so no this is not a racial thing although the common wording might lead one to that conclusion. This is about requiring that if I want to sell one of my weapons to a friend or even family member, I would have to initiate the same background check that the gun store or one with a FFL is required to do. I’m not passing judgment on such a suggested requirement but would suspect that most who would support this do not own a gun and therefore are all for it.

    Mechanisms that identify and prevent potential purchases by those who have been demonstrated to be at risk for illegal activity with guns. – on its face, this sounds like a complete contradiction of the previous bullet (oops) point. The current background check looks for criminal convictions including violent crimes. This is just another Star Chamber argument that we need to not allow civil rights for those who question authority or have wrong-think. On the other hand, ic we actually convicted violent criminals regardless of their political views or class, then the BC currently used would disallow a weapon purchase.

    A focus on the specific weapons that are demonstrated to create rapid destruction through high capacity or rapid fire action. – first off, what does “a focus” mean? Let us focus on machine guns and they go away? And by the way, machine guns are heavily regulated as are all automatic weapons. I think most know this but a killer can kill just as many people with a 6 shot revolver and a speed loader as one who has a Glock. Any weapon is as rapid fire as one can pull a trigger. And by the way, we learned in WI that a dedicated killer can do their deed with an SUV, never pu.ling any trigger…and that is the point.

  5. Looks like the mayor wants to run for a bigger chair someday, so she has to start showing her allegiance to the liberal agenda. This is pure posturing, and it’s amusing how many of you fall for it.

    It’s a weird idea that by keeping guns away from law-abiding citizens, you will somehow make communities and families safer. It doesn’t work.

    There’s no law that will keep guns out of the hands of people intent on getting one illegally. Just look at Chicago or DC with some of the toughest gun laws, yet out of control violence.

    Hunter Biden, a crack-addicted con man grifting for his family on his politician father’s name, lied on his gun application but still got the gun. And yet when caught, he gets a sweetheart no-penalty plea deal. Worse, no outcry from the hypocritical gun control crowd.

    Biden and our Border Czar Kamala can’t keep out a flood of over 7,000,000 (and counting) illegals. They will never stop the illegal gun trade over our open border.

    How about we close the border, get DA’s to enforce existing laws, add prison time for illegal possession / use of a gun, end the Defund The Police insanity, and recognize the mental issues of those at fault in mass attacks with a gun. And get off the backs of those who chose to hunt or defend themselves and their families legally.

  6. Good. She was elected and we live in a representative democracy. If you don’t like it, vote.

    Children needlessly die because people live in fear and “need muh guns” protected by a horridly poor interpretation of the second amendment.

    Good guys with guns didn’t save the kids in Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde or Nashville. Our selfishness as nation only hurts us.

  7. Just to put all these numbers into perspective, there were 39,707 premature lives lost with a gun most of them suicides in 2019. Guttmacher estimates there were 916,460 premature deaths lost to abortions. Seems to me something else needs to be controlled if you catch my drift gentlemen.

    But that in a long way shows how little we value human life.

    Less than half of all murders occur with a firearm, same with suicides. Taking away the gun will simply make victims out of the weaker in our society. Someone intent on doing harm to themselves or other will find a way with or without a gun.

  8. The people of PTC better become aware of who is actually running for office. Turnout for local elections has been dismal considering the number of residents in Peachtree City. It’s beyond time to start paying very close attention to who future candidates are and what party line they represent. Some are very slick at hiding it.
    Vote vote vote!!!

  9. Frankly, I do not know the Mayor’s views on this topic. But I would hope everyone in PTC would want stronger gun laws.
    David Axelrod once said- “Per capita gun deaths in the U.S. are exponentially higher than other nations. Is the difference that we, as a people, are that much more susceptible to mental illness? Or is it that we have the most liberal gun laws in the world?”
    He is correct. A few months ago, innocent school children were shot to death, once again. This time it was not Texas; it happened in nearby Tennessee. I have children and grandchildren in both states.
    Why did it happen? Are Americans (or Tennesseans or Texans) just more violent or crazy, the NRA position? Most Georgia House members agree, getting them an “A” NRA rating, plus campaign funding.
    Does Trump believe more guns will cause fewer shootings, the NRA “good guy/bad guy” totally false talking point? Or is he just beholden to the special interests and scared of one issue voters?
    Well, do you remember the narcissistic NYC reality star who in 2016 promised to “drain the swamp”? Trump, now under four indictments, also received $30 million from the NRA for his campaign.
    Pro-gun newsletters declare “gun grabbers” are coming to confiscate our guns and must be stopped. But per polls, gun owners don’t all support the NRA extremist position. I don’t. Many others would not if they did not listen to the right-wing NRA/Fox false propaganda about gun grabbers and our existing laws being just fine if they were enforced. With family members who were FBI employees, local police officers and prison guards, I guarantee you that lazy cops are not the problem!
    The AMA stated gun violence is a growing public health issue. The number of gun deaths is currently over 40,000 annually, more per capita than any other democracy.
    I have always thought that there’s a middle ground on guns. Reasonable limits can be placed on guns, while still permitting some personal firearms. Frankly, it’s impossible to just take away 400 million guns (up from 90 million when I graduated college). However, we can control who owns them so that they are not accessible to those most likely to misuse them.
    Congress could pass stronger laws to:
    *Establish an accurate national gun sale database;
    *Do thorough universal background checks, including at gun shows (now exempt) with reasonable waiting periods;
    *Stop criminals, the mentally unbalanced, drunks, druggies, and other dangerous people from gun ownership;
    *Prevent gun sales to people on “no fly” and watch lists;
    *Stop private ownership of assault rifles like the one used in Tennessee, and elsewhere;
    *Prohibit the sale of high capacity magazines;
    *Require carry permits, stopping concealed carry;
    *Increase taxes on guns/ammunition to compensate victims and offset law enforcement costs;
    *Raise the age to purchase firearms to 21 so that a child who can’t buy wine also can’t buy a gun; and
    *Require guns to be under lock and key, making parents legally responsible if a teenager uses their guns to kill others.
    We should all know by now that prayer is not enough; our most religious states are our most violent. Neither is loosening gun control, the knee-jerk reaction of Southern legislatures like that of Georgia, promoting even more shooting deaths while incorrectly citing Second Amendment rights (which are only for state militias).
    No one says it better than Broward County Florida Sheriff Steve Israel, “What about the rights of these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools with book bags and pencils? Don’t they have the right to be protected by the United States government, to the best of our ability?”
    Many of the above measures have the support of most Americans and Georgians. But many national and state elected officials are cowards. They know the truth about gun control but will never admit it. Tell your elected officials to stop taking lobbyist money and finally do something to control gun violence. Or vote them out of office.

      • Maybe if we tried to stem the flow of guns, fewer criminals would have them and the job of police would be easier. Gun control takes some effort, not just saying let them shoot people. We can do something about this, as Australia, Japan and every European country have shown. But we’d rather live in the Wild West.

    • Mexico had a right to keep and bear arms (article 10). In 1972 the right to keep was restricted to limit to in one’s home. Gun stores and private transfers were eliminated. The right to carry was limited to militia and police and to paid security guards. Limits were placed on handguns to 2 per household, and rifles to 10. No automatics, semi-autos to 38 cal nothing larger.

      Mexico must be one save place 50 years later, right?

      Hmm, looks like 28.2 murders per year per 100,000 population with 19.9 done with a firearm.
      Mexico Homicide rate, 1990-2022 –

      The US 6.8 murders per year per 100,000 population with 4.1 done with a firearm.
      United States of America Homicide rate, 1990-2022 –

      You Ivory tower folks are brilliant!

  10. Good for Mayor Learnard! The proposals for weapon regulation in the letter are far too modest, but at least it would be a productive beginning.

    We won’t get a good handle on controlling the menace of gun violence – like the rest of the developed world – until we change product liability laws and are able to sue the manufacturers as well as criminally hold gun purchasers responsible for harm caused by any firearm they purchased. Then they can’t use the “It was stolen from me” excuse.

      • Penny – I like the analogy. Car manufacturers devote enormous energy into improving the safety of their products. Comparing harm produced by firearms and passenger vehicles (taking into consideration the time of usage of each), cars and trucks are vastly safer than guns.

        Consider the purchaser of a handgun who does not use it for sport (e.g., gun range, etc.). The statistical probability that this purchaser will accrue beneficence from the discharge of that handgun is extremely low. The chances of it being used for suicide, stolen, accidentally or impulsively discharged, mishandled by a child, waved recklessly, etc. far outdistance the likelihood that it will defend the owner from harm.

        Firearm manufacturers could easily add smart technology like facial recognition software, etc., but they steadfastly refuse to do so. A few 7-figure verdicts against a manufacturer has an amazing ability to get their attention and direct prosocial behavior without any government regulation whatsoever.

        • Tragic as it is but in 2021 there were 549 accidental gun deaths in this country according to the CDC Wonder database. Gun safety should be mandatory in school. Guns should always be stored with a trigger lock especially if there are children in the home. I believe every gun should be required to be sold with one. To me those are two meaningful common sense gun law to reduce the number of accidental gun deaths.

          There were 42,915 people killed by motor vehicle accidents and approximately 286 million vehicles giving us 1 accidental death for every 6,664 vehicles. It is quite understandable that car manufacturers would devote effort into making a safer product. Most people spend 300 hours in their car a year being transported.

          There are roughly 434 million firearms giving us a total of 1 accidental death for every 790,528 guns. As for most, it’s purpose it for self-defense.

          There were 42,915 people killed accidentally by motor vehicles in 2021 and approximately 286 million vehicles giving us 1 accidental death for every 6,664 vehicles.

          Since the purpose of my car is to transport me, I use a car about 200 hours a year. My handgun I use daily for my own self-defense. I can not afford an armed security guard for myself. It’s purpose is to give me some piece of mind, as do most other hand gun owners. It is the vast hope of all gun owners that it will never need to be taken from its holster. Kind of like a fire extinguisher, you buy one for peace of mind and the hope you never have to actually need to use it.

          Seems guns are about a 100 times safer than a car on a per unit basis.

          But traffic accidents are not the most common cause of accidental death. Drug overdose cause 100,306 deaths in 2021 according to the CDC. With 78,056 being due to primarily to synthetic opioids the majority of that being fentanyl.

          If Mayor Pickleball was really all that concerned about the health and well-being of her constituents, she wouldn’t be wasting her time writing Gov Shotgun about gun control. Instead she would be demand her President put his ice cream down and seal our southern board to slow the stream of fentanyl pouring into this country.

          • Lulu – We finally agree on something! Trigger locks and gun safety courses. Of course that is merely a beginning. Just as with automobiles, no one should be able to drive without a valid license that was obtained by demonstrating proficiency at handling the device and knowledge of the laws that regulate it. Also, periodic re-licensing would be in order. But most important, users should be able to sue manufacturers of these devices when they skimp on available safety protocols through ignoring available technology and otherwise.

            Unfortunately, your statistics are skewed because the vast majority of people do not interact with their firearms constantly (as apparently you do). So, for owners, time spent in a car used for beneficence and time spent admiring a shiny firearm are vastly different. But I am so glad that most gun owners leave their weapons at home in a closet or bedroom drawer. I’m sure some responsible ones lock theirs in a gun safe. The vast majority of people (gun owners and non-gun owners) are moral, civic minded, and nice to each other and look toward the common good.

            Thankfully, PTC does not seem to have any real problem with gun violence. So, like you, I am surprised that the mayor weighed in on this publicly. Perhaps she has had some personal experience with gun violence.

        • Why do you present a position of weapon control as a political party issue? It is, rather, a common sense issue of sane regulations of a dangerous device vs. insane c’est cera cera and merely waiting for the next bloodbath.

          For god’s sake, turn off Fox News and think for yourself!

        • She’s siding with common sense. PTC has been fortunate to not have a major school-related shooting though there has been a several issues including an in-school firearm suicide.

          Do we need to wait? Like Sandy Hook? Parkland? Heritage? Columbine? Hint: it’s a long, and growing, list. Until we value childrens’ lives more than guns we’ll keep the juvenile casket makers in full time business.

          • Hint: The largest massacres in this country were done without a gun, no bullets fired. A person bent on evil will find a way. Focus on fixing the evil that lurks in the minds of man and you won’t about the safety of our children. Or at least learn to recognize it and get them the help they need.

          • Lulu – There is nothing wrong with your suggestion that we learn to recognize people with mental health problems and offer them treatment. But good luck with eradicating evil from humankind.

            In the meantime, we can join the entirety of western democracies by adopting reasonable, commonsense regulations for weapons. The United States is an outlier among democratically elected republics with far more violent crime and incarceration than our peers. A country with more firearms than people is a recipe for the violence the permeates our otherwise great nation.

  11. A gun can be used for protection (good) or crime (bad).
    How about we put restrictions on how many mental effecting pharmaceuticals people can be put on first? Since it’s always about who is using the weapon vs the actual inanimate object.
    For all the control freaks that believe they have the right to remove a person’s ability to protect themselves, you do not have that right. No human has the right to remove another human’s self protection (whatever choice object it is).
    Lock your guns up and keep them away from children. Be adults about it instead of being used by criminals to disarm the public.