Know the Law: Non-Lethal or Less Lethal Self-Defense | Georgia

The following is a video transcript.

Non-lethal or Less Lethal weapons and self-defense

Instead of carrying a firearm, there are many people who frequently carry other types of self-defense items. Carrying these types of weapons is common among those who might be uncomfortable carrying a firearm but understand the need to protect themselves. These types of weapons are known as “non-lethal” or “less lethal weapons”. The three types of weapons we will discuss today are stun guns and tasers, batons and nightsticks, and chemical sprays.

These are all types of non-lethal weapons that are acceptable to carry in Georgia without a weapons carry license. Let’s discuss these weapons, as well as some common misconceptions about less lethal or non-lethal weapons.

Do you NEED to have a weapons carry license to possess non-lethal or less lethal weapons?

It’s important that the stage is set with undoubtedly one of the most common misconceptions about self-defense tools: that a weapons carry license is a requirement to possess non-lethal weapons. The Georgia Code defines a weapon as a knife or handgun:

A handgun is a firearm, loaded or unloaded, from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged by the action of an explosive where the length of the barrel, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed 12 inches; provided, however, that the term “handgun” shall not include a gun which discharges a single shot of 0.46 centimeter or less in diameter.

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A knife is a cutting instrument designed for the purpose of offense and defense consisting of a blade that is greater than 12 inches in length which is fastened to a handle.

The Official Code of Georgia states that a weapons carry license shall authorize any person in possession of a license to carry any weapon in any county of the state. Together this determines that unless the weapon fits the definition of a knife or handgun, as those found in the law, no weapons carry license is required to carry them. A knife with a five inch blade, tasers, batons, and pepper spray, require no carry license.

Stun Guns and tasers

Now, stun guns fall outside the license requirement. Therefore, you can carry a stun gun or a taser without one. However, tasers and stun guns are considered unlawful weapons when in a school zone and therefore, are prohibited in schools unless the possessor meets one of the statutory exemptions that allow carry. Local ordinances may not restrict stun guns and tasers. They’re protected by the state preemption doctrine.

Batons and nightsticks

The same goes for batons and nightsticks. However, they may be prohibited by the school safety zone law. They are included in the state preemption doctrines, so no local jurisdiction can enact ordinances regulating them.

Chemical Sprays

Chemical sprays, in general, are the same way. They’re safe to carry in Georgia without a weapons carry license. They’re included in the state preemption doctrine, which means that local ordinances can’t restrict them. Furthermore, they are not included in the definition of the word “weapon” in the school carry law

Deadly Force & Non-Lethal or Less Lethal Weapons

We refer to these weapons as less lethal or non-lethal weapons. Many people carry them because they give protection without being as deadly as a firearm. But make no mistake, in the right or wrong circumstances, these items can still be deadly weapons. Remember, deadly force is that force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Anything in Georgia can be considered a deadly weapon. If you cause an injury to another, even in protecting yourself, it’s possible for your actions to be viewed as deadly force even though these items are less lethal or non-lethal.

For any questions regarding non-lethal weapons in Georgia, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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