Georgia citizens are lashing out about the possibility that Georgia might ban vanity license plates with references to guns and other weapons. These critics argue the policy violates their First Amendment rights all while disrespecting the Second Amendment.
“Anything that censors is very important to me and this is a state censoring,” said Kurt Martin, one of the protestors who attended a meeting with the Georgia Department of Revenue. “Our message is don’t put it on the list. Take it off the list and allow people to have the same message on their plates that anyone else can do.”
Spokesman Sean Casey assured the angry crowd the state had not already made a decision. They intended to “listen to the public and get their input” before making a final decision later this month.
If Georgia officials do plan to ban vanity plates with gun references, then there is a good chance the state is going to have a fight on its hands. There is already a strong precedent for Georgia citizens overturning license plate bans in court. Earlier this year, Cyrus Gilbert went to court when his license plate that read “GAY GUY” was denied. Gilbert won and later received his license plate.
Pro-gun advocates will likely follow in Gilbert’s footsteps and challenge the state’s ban in court. If they succeed, Georgia will likely give up the ban because of costly litigation. If they fail to get their license plates, then these pro-gun drivers will likely have grounds for claiming discrimination and fighting against the policy in a superior court. State officials will have a hard time justifying the fact that they deny license plates that reference guns, which are legal, but they allow license plates that reference illegal drugs.
Georgia officials certainly have the power to set whatever rules they want with their vanity license plates, but it will be difficult to ban some phrases but not others.