Constitutional Carry In Georgia Does Not Mean Totally Unrestricted
You may have heard the good news—Georgia has joined 24 other states with a Constitutional Carry law. Our state now follows the constitution a little more closely by not requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun in our state. And hopefully you have ignored the hysterical hype from the anti-gun crowd that this law will result in all kinds of death and destruction.
It is also important for anyone considering carry of a concealed weapon to know there are still restrictions on where you can carry, and there are some good reasons to continue to get a Georgia Weapons License.
The new Constitutional Carry law is basically 21 pages of legalese that replaces the phrase “a person who is licensed” with the phrase “lawful weapons carrier.” A “lawful weapons carrier” is defined as anyone “licensed or eligible for a license,” (bold emphasis is by the author), referring to a Georgia Weapons License under the old and still current law, GA 16-11-129.
The difference is you no longer must apply for, be approved for, and purchase a Georgia Weapons License, but if you would not qualify for one, you are still prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon. Those prohibited would include anyone under 21 years old unless they are at least 18 and in the military, convicted felons and those with pending felony charges, fugitives from justice, those prohibited from possessing or shipping weapons interstate under federal law, anyone convicted or charged with manufacture or distribution of illegal drugs, or anyone who had a weapons license revoked in the past.
Also prohibited from Constitutional Carry or obtaining are those convicted carrying a weapon in an unauthorized location, or convicted of a misdemeanor involving drugs within the past five years or ever convicted twice. If you have been hospitalized as an inpatient in a mental hospital or an alcohol or drug treatment center within the past five years, you are prohibited unless granted a waiver.
So, if you do not qualify for a Georgia Weapons License due to one of those restrictions, you still can not carry a concealed weapon under Constitutional Carry. And if you do qualify, there are still some places you can’t carry your weapon.
A weapon is defined as: “a handgun—uses an explosive charge to fire a projectile and barrel length is less that 12 inches, unless it is s single shot firing a bullet 0.46 centimeters (.18 caliber) or less.”
You can and always have been able to carry a weapon on your private property or in your vehicle. Some places where you previously needed a license but no longer need one includes parks, historic sites or recreational areas including publicly owned buildings in those places, wildlife management areas and public transportation, as long as federal law does not prohibit it.
Places you are still restricted from carrying a concealed weapon include courthouses, jails or prisons, churches and places of worship unless the church allows it, mental health facilities, nuclear power facilities, and within 150 feet of a polling place during an election. You cannot carry on any private property (like a gas station) where the owner prohibits it, but employers and the government are not allowed to fire or not hire you based on having a weapon in your vehicle in their parking lot, as long as the weapon is locked up and out of sight.
You may not carry a weapon in school safety zones which includes all school property, school functions or school buses. Schools include colleges and technical schools. The exception is if you are an adult non-student over 21 years old dropping off or picking up a student and you keep your weapon in your vehicle.
The law seems confusing, but you can carry a weapon at an airport as long as you do not try to get past the security check and violate federal law. But, if you are not a “lawful weapons carrier,” you can be charged with a felony and imprisoned up to 10 years.
Sporting events are also confusing. Some sporting events are on government property, some are on private property. So the owners can prohibit you from carrying a weapon, just like on any other private property. And school sporting events are on school property, so you are prohibited.
There are good reasons to continue to buy a Georgia Weapons License. When you buy a gun, having the license will still exempt you from the federal background check. And the new law recognizes citizens from all other states with a weapon license while in Georgia—about half the states in the U.S. That means you can carry a weapon in all states with reciprocal agreements with Georgia, but some will require you to have a license while in their state to prove you are licensed in Georgia. Even if they don’t require it, having one may save you some trouble and confusion. Also, many private sellers of guns, like through GON Classifieds, require that a buyer show a carry permit along with an ID before they will sell a gun.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I studied the Georgia law and looked for other resources while researching this article, and I found a good bit of conflicting information, particularly on the Internet. Anyone considering carrying a handgun should do their own research and know the laws, particularly when traveling to states other than Georgia.
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