There’s a huge gang problem in his state. The governor is trying to stop it. His own party stands in the way.

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Predictably, Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp faced recent thrashings from critics over decisions to resuscitate the state’s economy. Kemp, at this point however, should be well accustomed to empty hostilities aimed directly at his stances on public safety. 

In a bizarre trail of revisions, for example, Kemp’s recently proposed anti-gang bill, House Bill 994, suffered an unjustified deconstruction by Georgia’s House of Representatives during the now-suspended legislative session.

This dispute over enhanced gang legislation reveals a pattern of dereliction by Georgia lawmakers rooted in the enduringly cartoonish visage of the establishment Republican In Name Only (RINO).

Several Georgia House RINOs surreptitiously opposed and then “gutted” the visionary bill despite existing law declaring a “state of crisis” of gang crime in the Peach State.

Kemp’s new gang bill called the “Sheffey Act” was named after Nicholas Sheffey, an innocent 11-year-old murdered by a stray bullet in 2010 from a Crips gang shooting. The Act originally had the following key measures:

  1. Granting all District Attorneys (DA) the discretion to prosecute juveniles as adults for gang-related offenses (as opposed to judges making that call);
  2. Allowing DAs to prosecute multijurisdictional gang cases in one venue, when those cases involve criminal acts performed across multiple jurisdictions, (mirroring the state’s powerful racketeering laws); and
  3. Rendering gang related murderers, who kill to further the interests of the gang, eligible for the death penalty at the election of the DA.

Regrettably, these leading provisions were stripped from Kemp’s bill after the RINO horde sunk their hooves into Kemp’s efforts to improve public safety.

Georgia law enforcement experts have warned about the growing Gang Crisis for years, but, shamefully, the RINO opposition continues. In 2018, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association (GGIA) released its study estimating that gang membership topped 70,000.

Weeks later, the FBI released its estimate that Metro Atlanta, alone, had 50,000 gang members, who the Bureau explained were recruiting children “at a younger and younger age.”

Even with the GGIA President Jimmy Callaway and Education Director Ray Ham having tirelessly taught lawmakers the best practices to combat gangs, this legislative dereliction towards public safety – and simultaneous enabling of gangs – only worsens.

Luckily, these warnings preceded the 2018 election. Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr clearly got the message since they both ran aggressive, anti-gang campaigns that resonated with Georgia voters, as both Kemp and Carr won their races.

Astute commentary recognized these “victories demonstrate that the majority of Georgians . . . decisive and vigorous measures to protect them from gangs.”

While other officials are busy orchestrating the mass release of violent offenders through “criminal justice reform,” Kemp put public safety first and proposed a much-needed anti-gang enhancement to Georgia law.

Meanwhile, a Republican majority House with a Republican House Speaker and a Republican-led committee, however, still stripped the Sheffey Act while trampling through these three critical measures.

Who, other than pro-gang-enablers, would oppose such sensible, measured proposals in the face of 70,000 active gang members? Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds has sounded the alarm noting: “criminal street gangs appear to have been granted a sort of de facto political immunity” from both political camps.

This baffled Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz, who asserted “pro-criminal organizations” blocked these provisions, as he rightfully posited:  “With support of the governor and state attorney general, one would think that toughening [gang laws] would be a no-brainer in a state like Georgia.”

“Enter the RINOs with other plans at stage Left,” some might say, and while no one should operate on the basis of stereotypes or caricatures, the cartoonish visage of these doggedly disinterested Fat Cats comes to mind.

Gang crime victims and the law enforcement officials sworn to protect the public are usually not country club members; supporters of criminal justice reformers, on the other hand, often are. And so, mass prison release reforms without anti-gang components are championed in many Republican circles. Apparently, the resultant increase in gang crime does not concern these RINOs either. Proposals to protect victims and enhance public safety against gangs are never pushed and consistently resisted.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

In other words, to victims and cops, “Let them eat cake,” the RINOs seem to say.

Are the Georgia Republicans who trampled Kemp’s anti-gang enhancements tantamount to RINOs? Observers will decide.

Comparably, last year when Georgia’s new abortion law, House Bill 481, came under attack, Republican state legislators ran for the hills in their typical stampeding fashion. While celebrated attorneys, venerated academics, and others penned columns in support of Kemp’s position, there arose a deafening silence from Georgia’s Republican delegation. 

In pushing for enhanced gang legislation, Kemp took the side of the innocent decisively, publicly, and in a way that would benefit public safety for all Georgians, not just country clubbers. The RINOs whose dereliction engineered the Sheffey Act’s ruination clearly did not have the same priorities.

Only weeks after pillaging the Sheffey Act, a haunting parallel emerged. In Metro Atlanta, a reported gang-motivated shooting resulted in the murder of a 7-year-old child. Another innocent life lost to alleged gang violence, according to reports. 

Will this horror cause reflection on Georgia House Republicans? Will they be publicly contrite? Will they admit their error and resurrect the provisions they eliminated?

Undoubtedly, Nicholas Sheffey’s mother and the surviving families of gang victims surely wish they would. The same goes for brave members of law enforcement who struggle to protect our communities against the very gang violence that legislative inaction enables, and appears to encourage.

When courageous leaders like Governor Kemp put public safety first, they should be supported, not undermined. We should all pray that it will not take more gang crime tragedies to assuage this RINO nonsense further.

It would be too easy to simply blame Democrats for getting here, but the fact that Republicans hold a distinct majority in the Georgia House demands a different conclusion. Responsible citizens should take a closer look before more gangs take advantage by jumping on the RINO stampede.

 

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