We get a lot of questions about gun laws. These laws frequently change and sometimes this causes confusion. Last year, we posted some answers to frequently asked questions regarding gun laws. To make sure that you're up to date on the current gun laws we're re-posting the questions with some updated answers.
Firearms laws can vary greatly between states, which makes it important to become familiar with the firearms laws of not just your home state, but any state where you plan to travel. An excellent source of information concerning gun laws is the National Rifle Association website.
Georgia's firearms laws can be found in the O.C.G.A. under title 16 Chapter 11 starting at 16-11-101 and concluding with 16-11-134. These code sections can be viewed by clicking the following link:
Here are the answers to some of the more common firearms questions:
How old do I have be to legally possess a firearm? - Georgia law requires that you be at least 18 years of age to possess either a handgun or long gun such as a rifle or shotgun. While you can legally own a handgun in Georgia at 18 years of age, Federal law requires you to be at least 21 years of age before you can purchase a handgun. Georgia law also prohibits anyone under the age of 21 carry a handgun on their person or in their vehicle unless they fall under one of the following exemptions:
Do I have to register my gun(s) in Georgia? - No. Georgia does not require anyone to register firearms.
Do I have to have a permit to carry a firearm in my car? – No. Georgia law does not forbid the transportation of a firearm in any private passenger motor vehicle. It is not required that a person obtain a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm in a vehicle. Georgia law only requires that the person meet the same prerequisites as someone with a concealed weapon permit. Previously the law required that the weapon be carried in an open manner and fully exposed to view or in the glove compartment, console, or similar compartment of the vehicle. This is no longer the case and this statement was taken out of the law effective January 1, 2009.
Does the gun have to be unloaded when carrying it in my car? No. There is no requirement that it be unloaded.
Where can I carry my pistol or revolver if I have a license / permit? - Even with a permit, there are restrictions when carrying a weapon on your person such as types of holsters, etc. The person should review O.C.G.A 16-11-126 and be familiar with this code section before carrying a concealed weapon.
The second part of this question often deals with "where" as it pertains to location. For this, carrying to or while at "public gathering" is prohibited. There are also other locations that are prohibited even for those possessing a carry permit. Public gathering, as defined in code section 16-11-127, "shall include, but shall not be limited to, athletic or sporting events, churches or church functions, political rallies or functions, publicly owned or operated buildings, or establishments at which alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises and which derive less than 50 percent of their total annual gross food and beverage sales from the sale of prepared meals or food".
A person licensed or permitted to carry a firearm under O.C.G.A 16-11-127 shall not consume alcoholic beverages in a restaurant or other eating establishment while carrying a firearm. Any person violating this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Where can I obtain a license to carry a pistol or revolver? An application for a firearms license can be obtained from the probate court in your county of residence.
How much does license to carry a pistol or revolver cost? - In Whitfield County the cost of a firearms license is $60 and is valid for five years. It may take up to two weeks to get everything processed and to get the permit issued.
Is it required that I attend firearms training before obtaining firearms license? - In Georgia, there is no requirement of firearms instruction or training prior to getting the carry permit. However, while not required, it is highly recommended that the person obtain, at a minimum, basic instruction on the operation of the firearm they own as well as be familiar with the laws surrounding carrying and use of firearms. Carrying a firearm for personal protection is a tremendous responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.
Does your department offer firearms training? - Currently, the Dalton Police Department does not offer firearms instruction to private citizens. However, there are several private organizations available to receive this instruction. A few nationally recognized ones include Thunder Ranch, Gunsite Academy, Shootrite Academy in Alabama and Bill Rogers Shooting Schoolin Ellijay.