The following is a video transcript.

As a lawful gun owner, what can you do if you find you have inadvertently carried a firearm into an off-limits location, but you need to use your firearm in self-defense? Do you lose the privilege of a “stand your ground” defense?

If you are in a situation where you have unintentionally carried a firearm into a prohibited location such as a school safety zone or a church that has not explicitly granted that right to its guests, you can still protect yourself and be protected under the law.

DEFENSE OF SELF OR OTHERS

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-11-138 clearly establishes that the “defense of self or others, as contemplated by and provided for under Article 2 of Chapter 3 of this title, shall be an absolute defense to any violation under this part.” So let’s unpack that statement.

We know the defense of self or others is a basic framework of self-protection found in Georgia law. This defense allows us to protect ourselves or any other person by the use of threats of force, force, or deadly force. § 16-11-138 describes as “an absolute defense” the defense of self or others “as contemplated and provided for under Article 2 of Chapter 2 of this title.” But what does that mean?

Article 2 of Chapter 3 is the “justification and excuse” section of the “defense to criminal prosecutions” chapter. This section contains the laws on self-defense, defense of habitation, defense of property, and other criminal defenses, such as § 16-3-24.2, Georgia’s “stand your ground” statute [see also § 16-3-23.1]. It also contains the most important laws on lawful carry, including possessing weapons; the license requirements for carrying; unauthorized locations where you cannot carry; and weapons in school safety zones. But what does this mean?

This means all the carry laws we’re concerned with (such as carry in a school zone or carry in a church), have as an absolute defense to their violation the defense of self or others, meaning should you find yourself to have violated one of these rules on carry, but you must protect yourself or others in that location, the justification found in the defense of self or others will provide an absolute defense to your violation of taking that firearm somewhere you shouldn’t have taken it.

STATUTORY DEFENSES

Keep in mind that some violations have their own statutory defenses, such as the right of retreat for a Weapons Carry License holder, found in § 16-11-127(e)(1), and the prohibition on arrest for a Weapons Carry License holder who carries into a church without permission. But, this absolute defense works to protect any individual who carries in an off-limits location, but must use the defense of self or others to protect life while doing so.

Now folks, please pay careful attention. We do not advocate that you carry somewhere the law would not otherwise allow you to do so legally. But, if you inadvertently carry into such a location and must then protect yourself, the law will protect you.

For more information about this and other self-defense legal issues, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney today.