The following is a video transcript.
Today we’ll discuss the three most common mistakes, or misunderstandings regarding firearm laws, carry laws, and travel in and outside of Georgia.
You Must Have a License to Carry a Firearm
Misconception number one: you must have a license to carry a firearm in Georgia. This is the most common mistake or misconception. Here’s what Georgia law says about the most common forms of lawful carry without a license in Georgia:
“Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or a long gun may have or carry on his or her person a weapon or a long gun on his or her property or inside his or her home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid Weapons Carry License.”
This means if you are not a juvenile, you have no felony convictions (or pending felony charges), you have no convictions for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, and you are not a first offender felony probationer, you are eligible to possess a firearm without a Weapons Carry License in Georgia. In fact, so long as you are eligible to possess it, you may possess a long gun without a Weapons Carry License, openly or concealed—so long as it’s unloaded, meaning no round in the chamber. Otherwise, it must be carried openly, and a handgun may be carried without a Weapons Carry License when it is enclosed in the case and unloaded.
Informing Law Enforcement
Misconception number two: you must inform a law enforcement officer you have a firearm and present your Weapons Carry License. In some states, when stopped or questioned by law enforcement—at a traffic stop, for example—you must inform a law enforcement officer that you have a weapon in your vehicle, and you must present your Weapons Carry License. Georgia is one of the few states that does not have a “Duty to Disclose” statute. You’re under no obligation to let a police officer know that you have a weapon, and you’re under no legal obligation to produce a Weapons Carry License. Common sense rules apply: if that weapon may be uncovered during your interaction (for instance, if your wallet and your pistol are both in the center console), it might be a good idea to let that officer know.
You Must Lock Your Firearm in the Trunk
Misconception number three: you must lock your firearm in the trunk when traveling. This third misconception rests on partial knowledge. As we know from our first topic, you can carry a firearm in your vehicle without a Weapons Carry License, if traveling in Georgia, and if you’re eligible. Matter of fact, you can carry it anywhere in the car, loaded or unloaded, openly or concealed. This applies to anyone traveling in Georgia and remember also, that Georgia recognizes the weapons permits and licenses from 32 other states. Those travelers are given the full rights of Georgia license holders, while in this state. So, travel in Georgia does not require locking your firearm away in the trunk. Travel in other states, however, is more problematic. You must follow the laws of the state you’re traveling through, and your Georgia Weapons Carry License may not be recognized.
Firearm Owners Protection Act
For those reasons, federal law protection, the “Firearm Owners Protection Act”, protects you when traveling from one state where you are lawful to carry, to any other state where you’re lawful to carry, when the firearm is unloaded and locked in the trunk of your vehicle (this goes for ammunition as well), or out of immediate reach. Your journey must begin and end in states where your possession of a firearm is lawful, and you must be engaged in traveling. A prolonged stop at a highway rest station may put you out of this category. This is where the common belief “you must lock your firearm in the trunk when you travel” arises. Take a look at the laws of the state you’re traveling through, and to, first!
For any other questions regarding firearms laws in Georgia, common mistakes and misconceptions, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney today.