NOTE: THIS POST HAS A LOT OF INFORMATION ABOUT WHEN, WHERE AND HOW YOU CAN LEGALLY CARRY A GUN IN GEORGIA. DO NOT RELY ON A BLOG POST FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER YOU CAN CARRY A FIREARM IN PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU NEED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR FACTS.
While Governor Deal ponders the new campus carry law, I’m going to respond to a question a friend of mine had a couple of weeks back about when, where and how he could carry a new gun he got for Christmas. He’s planning to get a concealed carry permit and wanted to know what that entailed.
I told him he needed to get some basic training first. Everybody who's watched cops and robbers on TV thinks he knows how to use a gun. It’s just point and pull the trigger, right?
This particular friend has plenty of sense and knew to get somebody to introduce him to the firearm, show him the safety, review the different types of amunition he could use, and so forth. He’s taken it out to a firing range and shot it several times to make sure he actually knows the gun. And like so many people here in the deep south, he’s been around guns all his life. It may not be the case in every household, but if you have guns and children in the same house, you should educate them constantly and thoroughly on gun safety and responsibility.
When you have kids in the house, “cops and robbers” takes on a whole new significance. There was no such thing as a “toy gun” in my house.
Many times growing up, my boys heard me say, “I don’t care if its made of green plastic and it has an orange cap on the end of it. It’s a gun and you don’t point it at people.”
It's important to educate your kids thoroughly about guns, because the gun laws have no requirement for training. You don’t have to prove anything to get a carry license. The Probate Court is required to issue you a weapons permit unless one of several exceptions applies to you.
The exceptions include (but are not limited to)
- you're under the age of 21 unless you’re over 18 and have completed armed forces basic training,
- you were dishonorably discharged from the armed forces,
- you are a convicted felon or you're under a felony indictment,
- you were convicted of crimes involving illegal drug manufacture or use,
- you were convicted of a crime involving domestic violence, even if it was a misdemeanor, or you're under a domestic violence restraining order, and
- you were hosptialized in mental institution or a drug and alcohol treatment program within the five years preceding the date of your application.
There are nuances and there are other factors that can prevent you from getting a concealed carry permit. But the exceptions are supposed to screen-out people society doesn't want armed in public.
For most people, you don’t have to prove you know anything about your gun or about basic gun safety and responsibility. You’re on your honor, and in most cases, you and your family are the ones who are going to pay the price if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you're a law-abiding citizen, then as a general rule, you can get a concealed carry permit in the State of Georgia.
So, when, where and how does your concealed carry permit allow you to carry your firearm?
In Georgia, so long as you're not a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited from having a gun, you don’t have to have a license or permit to carry a weapon on your own property or on the property of someone who’s given you permission to have it with you. Your hunting license suffices as a weapons carry license when you're hunting, and if you're not prohibited from having a gun, then you can have it with you when you're in your own vehicle. If you are otherwise eligible to get a weapons carry license, you can have it in someone else's vehicle as long as they've given you permission.
In other words, if you went through detox less than five years ago, you probably wouldn't be able to get a carry license, but you can have your gun with you in your car unless you're also a convicted felon, or unless there is some other fact about you that altogether prohibits you from having a gun. If, however, you went through detox five years ago, you cannot have a loaded gun with you in somebody else's car, even if they give you permission to have the gun.
The rule of thumb is that if you don't have a carry license, when you take your weapon off private property, unless you're in your own vehicle, you should have it properly stowed, which means unloaded and in a case. If you don't have a carry license, you can't carry your gun off private property as a weapon. You have to carry it from one private property to another private property as if it were an article of baggage.
The weapons carry license allows you to take your gun with you when you leave leave private property and continue to carry it in a useful manner as a weapon.
Think of the Georgia Weapons Carry License as a public-carry permit. If you have a weapons carry license then (as a general rule and mind the caveat above about calling an attorney if you have a question about actual circumstances) you are one of the people that the people of the State of Georgia have authorized to carry weapons in public.
The question about when and where you may carry your weapon is not really the right question. You can pretty much carry it anywhere unless there is some other restriction on the place or the time. The correct question is thus whether there are times a places that you may not carry your weapon even though you have a weapons carry license.
There are such restrictions that include certain government buildings (like courthouses, jails and the council meeting chamber, but not the museum at the state park), mental hospitals, schools, political polling stations, nuclear power stations, and houses of worship.
I was also asked how the firearm could be carried. In other words, does it have to be concealed or can it be carried openly? Remember, there is no such thing as a "concealed weapons permit." The Georgia Weapons Carry License is a license to be armed in public, and the way I read the statutes, if you’ve got the license, you can wear your six-shooter on a gun-belt outside your pants like Pancho and Lefty if that's what you want to do. Still, if you have any question about your particular circumstances, you need to ask a lawyer. Don't rely on a blog post.
The new campus carry bill, if it becomes law, is a good example of one of those instances that can trip you up if you’re not careful. Remember, if you have a license you can take your gun with you pretty much anywhere except court, jail, school, the mental hospital, the polling booth, the nuclear power plant, and church, but even these restrictions on your right to carry in public carry have their own exceptions.
(One quick note, it should go without saying if you're on private property or at a private business and the owner, or someone in charge of the property, asks you to leave because you are armed, you should leave right away. If you don't go after being asked to leave, at a minimum you're committing criminal trespass. Because you are armed, an incident that would normally be an embarrassing misdemeanor can quickly escalate into a serious felony even if your gun stays holstered throughout the entire incident.)
As of right now, there are eighteen enumerated exceptions to the restriction against carrying weapons to school. The new campus carry bill adds a nineteenth exception that allows a weapons carry license-holder to have a firearm on college, university and other post-secondary school campuses (subject to other restrictions, like ball games or dorm rooms). But the new exception for campus carry won't allow you to carry the gun openly on your gun belt while on campus, or in an ankle holster if you're wearing a skirt. If the campus carry law lets you take your gun to school next year, you'll have to have to conceal your gun in a shoulder holster under your sports coat while you're on campus, or in your purse or book bag.
AGAIN, DO NOT RELY ON A BLOG POST FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER YOU CAN CARRY A FIREARM IN PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU NEED TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR FACTS.