Updated: 2:49 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 | Posted: 1:06 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012
By Chris Joyner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
THE GEORGIA CONSTITUTION
Article I, Section I, Paragraph VIII, states that: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne.”
• Dealers must first obtain a federal license, then a Georgia license;
• License applicants must submit an affidavit stating that they are U.S. citizens, are at least 21 and have not been convicted of a felony;
• Under federal law, dealers must perform a background check on each buyer;
• State law requires no background check for sales between private individuals;
• The state requires dealers keep records identical to those required under federal law;
• It is illegal for a licensed dealer to transfer a gun to anyone other than the actual buyer (known as a “straw purchase”);
• The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is required to provide information on the purchase and transfer of firearms to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and to give the FBI the names of people involuntarily hospitalized in mental health facilities.
• In general, the only people prohibited from possessing guns are most felons, felony probationers and people younger than 18 (except that minors may possess guns for hunting);
• However, only certain law officers and members of the military may possess an operational sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun, “dangerous weapon” or silencer;
• All local boards of education must expel for at least a year any student who brings a weapon to school.
A gun may be used in self-defense “to meet force with force, including deadly force” (except by a person prohibited from possessing firearms).
• Within 50 yards of a public highway or street without legal justification;
• On another’s property without legal justification;
• While under the influence of alcohol or drugs “to a degree such as to make such conduct unsafe”;
• From within a motor vehicle toward another person (classified as aggravated assault).
License to carry
• In general, it is unlawful for a person to carry a weapon outside his or her home, car or place of business without a license;
• Probate judges in each county are empowered to issues licenses to carry;
• After fingerprinting and a background check, licenses are available to persons 21 or older;
• The exceptions are fugitives, persons with certain pending criminal charges, convicted felons, certain people who have been hospitalized in mental hospitals or drug treatment centers, and persons convicted of certain drug offenses.
• In general, the law does not distinguish between concealed and unconcealed carry.
Places where guns may not be carried
• In government buildings;
• In places of worship;
• In bars, unless allowed by the owner;
• On college campuses (except locked in cars);
• On school property, with certain exceptions, including within a vehicle while dropping off students;
• At nuclear power plants;
• Within 150 feet of a polling place.
• In addition, a property owner’s right to prohibit guns on his or her property outweighs a gun owner’s right to carry.