Frequently Asked Questions About Georgia Firearms Laws
Q: I just moved to Georgia. Where do I register my handgun?
A: Welcome to Georgia! There is no handgun registration here. People are sometimes surprised to learn that only 6 states have handgun registration. Georgia is not one of them.
Q: Are “machine guns, silencers, and sawed off shotguns” illegal in Georgia?
A: No, not as long as they are registered under the requirements of the National Firearms Act.
Q: What about “high capacity” magazines?
A: Do you mean normal capacity magazines? Georgia has no law reducing the capacity of magazines for firearms.
Q: How long is the waiting period to buy a Handgun / Shotgun / Rifle in Georgia?
A: There is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm in the state of Georgia.
Q: I just inherited / bought a gun from someone in Georgia, do I need to transfer the gun to my name?
A: No, there is no state registration of firearms, thus there is no requirement to transfer the firearm in your name, unless it is a NFA Firearm. (NFA is National Firearms Act – NFA Firearms are registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ? better known as the ATF)
Q: What is required to purchase a firearm in the state of Georgia?
A: You will need a valid state-issued ID. Many Federal Firearms Licensees will not transfer long guns to out-of-state residents. This is due to the Federal Firearms Licensee?s requirement to uphold your resident state?s gun laws, and the inherent complexity associated with many states. Federal Firearms Licensee?s are prohibited by federal law from transferring hand guns to out-of-state residents.
Q: Do I have to pass a background check when purchasing a firearm from a Dealer?
A: You will be required to pass a background check when purchasing a firearm from a dealer. However, if you possess a valid Georgia Weapons License, your Georgia Weapons License will suffice as your background check. You will be required to show your state issued ID and your Georgia Weapons License in order to avoid the background check. Some firearms businesses may require a background check even if you have a GWL but it is not required by law. It is instead the business’ practices.
Q: Can I sell or purchase a firearm from someone other than a dealer? What about a background check in this instance?
A: Private sales of firearms between individual citizens are legal and do not require background checks. You are allowed to sell your private property to anyone of your choosing, unless the individual is ineligible to own or possess a firearm. Knowingly selling a firearm to a felon is a felony.
States that honor a Georgia Weapons License (GWL) and states Georgia honors
Q: What states honor a Georgia Weapons License (or what states does GA honor)?
A: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Please see the Georgia Attorney General?s Press Advisory here for the latest information.
Q: What laws do I follow when carrying in another state?
A: You must follow the laws of the state you are in. A good resource for handgun laws in other states can be found here.
Q: I am visiting Georgia, what exactly is reciprocity and what laws do I follow while carrying in Georgia with a reciprocal license?
A: Reciprocity simply means that a state honors another state’s license as if it was their own. In Georgia, your reciprocal license is treated exactly the same as someone who has a Georgia Weapons Carry License. You must follow what Georgia laws say regarding someone who has a Georgia Weapons Carry License. Please familiarize yourself with Georgia law as it can be very different from the carry laws of another state. Please read the Places Off Limits
and Method of Carry sections of this FAQ for some common answers regarding Georgia law.
Q: What is a public gathering?
A: The Public Gathering Law was repealed when SB308 was signed into law on June 4, 2010. The Public Gathering was law in Georgia for 140 years and was one of the last Jim Crow laws to be repealed in Georgia. Many people still refer to the Public Gathering even though it is no longer law.
Q: Can I carry to or at church?
A: No, unless the church has a policy of allowing carry in their individual church. HB60 modified church carry so if you are caught carrying a weapon in a church that does not allow carry, you will be ticketed and fined up to $100. You will also be subject to losing your GWL for up to 5 years. You may have a weapon in your car in the parking lot with a valid Georgia Weapons License which has been legal since SB308 was signed into law on June 4, 2010.
Q: Can I carry at Applebee?s or [insert other restaurant here]?
A: SB308 does not prohibit carry for Georgia Weapons License holders in restaurants. However, individual restaurant owners have the option of asking you to leave their establishment if they do not wish for you to carry there. Should a business owner or his agent ask you to leave while you are carrying a firearm, do so immediately, or as soon as reasonably possible. Failure to leave within a reasonable time, or refusing to leave, is a criminal offense known as ?criminal trespass.? In addition, please maintain a polite demeanor so as to project a good image of yourself and other GCO members to the business owner and any witnesses even when being asked to leave.
Q: Can I carry at a Bar?
A: HB60 decriminalized carrying in bars for Georgia Weapons License holders. However, individual bar owners have the option of asking you to leave their establishment if they do not wish for you to carry there. Should a business owner or his agent ask you to leave while you are carrying a firearm, do so immediately, or as soon as reasonably possible. Failure to leave within a reasonable time, or refusing to leave, is a criminal offense known as ?criminal trespass.? In addition, please maintain a polite demeanor so as to project a good image of yourself and other GCO members to the business owner and any witnesses even when being asked to leave.
Q: Can I carry at a State Park, Historic Area, or Wildlife Management Area?
A: Yes, including the publicly owned/operated buildings on those lands provided you possess a valid Georgia Weapons License.
Q: Can I carry at a State Park, Historic Area, or Wildlife Management Area that is under control of the Army Corp of Engineers?
A: No. It is against federal law to carry in any area controlled by the COE. GCO filed a lawsuit late Thursday, June 12, against the Army Corps of Engineers for its refusal to allow GWL holders to carry on Corps property. The complaint can be found here. GCO has also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in its case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In the motion, GCO seeks to have the Corps enjoined from enforcing the ban on carrying on Corps property pending the outcome of the case. The brief in support of the motion and other documents may be viewed here.
Q: Can I carry in a city or county park?
A: Yes! GeorgiaCarry.Org fought battles with several cities and counties over this issue, and has been victorious each time. State law preempts local ordinances on this issue.
Q: What about the buildings in a city or county park?
A: Yes, unless the park buildings qualify as ?government buildings? under SB308, you may carry in the buildings.
Q: What is a government building?
A: Government building means a building that houses an office, agency, authority, department, commission, board, body, division, instrumentality, or institution of the state or any county, municipal corporation, consolidated government, or local board of education within this state. In addition, any place where such government entity meets in its official capacity, but, if the building is privately owned, then only while the meeting is in session. If a privately owned building houses a government entity, then only the portion of the building that houses the government entity is off limits.
Q: Are state government buildings off limits?
A: No. HB60 decriminalized the carrying of weapons into government buildings when the government building is open for business and where ingress into such building is not restricted or screened by security personnel. A license holder who enters or attempts to enter a government building carrying a weapon where ingress is restricted or screened by security personnel shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if at least one member of such security personnel is certified as a peace officer. However if a license holder immediately exits such building or immediately leaves such location upon notification of his or her failure to clear security due to the carrying of a weapon shall not be guilty of a misdemeanor. A person who is not a license holder and who attempts to enter a government building carrying a weapon shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Q: Can I carry in airports?
A: SB308 decriminalized carry in non-secure areas of airports in GA.
Q: What happens if I accidentally leave my firearm in my carry on luggage at the TSA area at an airport?
A: HB60 requires that the weapon being carried by a license holding passenger be given back to the passenger and the passenger is allowed to remove the firearm from the airport and then return for screening. However, the FBI recently instituted a plan that overrides HB60. If you are caught in the TSA area of the airport, you will be ticketed and your firearm may be taken from you and held until the case is settled. You will be given a ticket and court date. You will be fined $130.00 if you don’t fight the ticket and your firearm returned when you pay the fine.
Q: Does Georgia have stand your ground laws?
A: Yes. If you reasonably believe your life is in danger, you have the right to use deadly force in defense of life.
Q: What if I have to defend my life or another’s life in an off limits location?
A: HB60 creates an absolute defense for the legal use of deadly force in the face of a violent attack no matter where you are.
Q: I heard GeorgiaCarry.Org?s President state that it is illegal to carry into the restrooms at interstate rest areas. Is this true?
A: The statement was true until June 6, 2010 prior to the passage of SB308.
Q: What if a business posts a sign stating ?No Firearms??
A: While there is no law against carrying a firearm into a business that posts such a sign, GeorgiaCarry.Org encourages its members to respect the private property owner?s wishes. Why support such a business with your hard-earned money? There are plenty of businesses that support your right to bear arms. They are more deserving of your support.
Should a business owner or his agent ask you to leave while you are carrying a firearm, do so immediately, or as soon as reasonably possible. Failure to leave within a reasonable time, or refusing to leave, is a criminal offense known as ?criminal trespass.? In addition, please maintain a polite demeanor so as to project a good image of yourself and other GCO members to the business owner and any witnesses even when asked to leave.
Q: I am a GeorgiaCarry.Org Member, and I own a restaurant. Am I required to allow everyone to carry a firearm on my property?
A: No. See the question and answer immediately above this one. In addition, please see the Employer/Employee section.
Q: May I carry at schools ? K through 12?
A: Yes. HB60 does not allow for carry at K-12 schools. However, a person with a Georgia Weapons License may carry a firearm while dropping off or picking up a student and also may keep a firearm in a motor vehicle while parked on campus.
Q: May I carry at technical schools and colleges?
A: Yes. HB280 allows a weapons carry license holder to carry a handgun concealed while on campus of public technical schools and public colleges with certain rooms or buildings remaining off-limits to carry (not in student housing, no faculty, staff, or administrative offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted, no room or space where high school students are enrolled, no room where there is preschool or childcare, no room or space being used for classes related to a college and career academy or other specialized school as provided for under Code Section 20-4-37). HB280 does not allow for campus carry at private technical schools or private colleges. However, a person with a Georgia Weapons License may carry a firearm while dropping off or picking up a student and also may keep a firearm in a motor vehicle while parked on campus of a private school.
Q: Can I carry at Stone Mountain Park?
A: Yes. GeorgiaCarry.Org filed a lawsuit against the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. As a result they no longer have a local ordinance prohibiting carry at the park for people with a valid Georgia Weapons License.
Q: Can a law enforcement officer detain me for the sole purpose of determining if I have a GWL?
A: No. HB60 codifies that no law enforcement officer may detain anyone solely for the purpose of determining if they possess a GWL. As with any detainment of a private citizen, the officer must have reasonable articular suspicion or probable cause.
Q: I live in public housing. Am I allowed to have a firearm in my home?
A: Yes. HB60 prohibits any condition of tenancy in public housing, any prohibition or restriction of any lawful possession of a firearm unless required by federal law or regulation.
I Do Not Have a Georgia Weapons License nor a reciprocal license. What Can I Do?
Q: I don?t have a Georgia Weapons License nor a reciprocal license. Can I carry in my car?
A: Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a weapon or 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. In addition, such person may carry a long gun, which must be carried openly if loaded. Moreover, such person may carry in his or her own motor vehicle. Finally, if such person is eligible for a Georgia Weapons License, he or she may carry in any private passenger motor vehicle.
Q: Can I carry in my house?
A: Yes. See above answer.
Q: Can I carry a handgun openly, without concealing it?
A: No! Georgia is one of the minority of states that requires a Georgia Weapons License to carry a handgun openly outside of your home, car, or place of business. However, any person with a valid hunting or fishing license on his or her person, or any person not required by law to have a hunting or fishing license, who is engaged in legal hunting, fishing, or sport shooting when the person has the permission of the owner of the land on which the activities are being conducted may have or carry on his or her person a handgun or long gun without a valid weapons carry license while hunting, fishing, or engaging in sport shooting.
Please be sure to read the history of Georgia?s licensing law and find out why a license is required to carry a handgun openly. It is not what you think.
Q: Can I have a gun in my car while I am at work?
A: Yes, provided your employer does not prohibit it.
Q: I am a teacher / administrator at a school. Can I carry a weapon while school is in session?
A: HB60 provides for the local school board to allow certain personnel to carry. There are special rules for such carry and the program is voluntary.
Method of Carry
Q: Do I need to carry my firearm concealed or may I carry openly?
A: Under the law, a Georgia Weapons License holder may carry a weapon or long gun openly or concealed in any location that is not off limits. However, should you choose to openly carry a handgun, please be aware of the image you present to the public while doing so. They vote.
Q: Do I have to use a holster?
Q: Where do I go to apply for a Georgia Weapons License?
A: You can only apply at the Probate Court in the county in which you reside. For most counties, the information needed is on their website as to where, when, cost and how the payment is accepted. Counties have their own set of rules they operate within.
Q: What kind of training is required for obtaining a Georgia Weapons License?
A: There is absolutely no training requirement for a Georgia Weapons License.
Note: Please be aware as it has been reported that some websites offer training for obtaining a Georgia Weapons License, giving the impression that one will receive a Georgia Weapons License after paying a fee of $70, which is the approximate cost of a new GWL.
Q: What background checks are performed on first-time Georgia Weapons License applicants?
A: An applicant for a Georgia Weapons License must submit to one state and two federal criminal background checks. Two of these checks (GCIC and NCIC) are fingerprint based. In addition, the probate judge may check the mental health, drug, or alcohol addiction records of the Georgia Department of Human Resources. There are additional checks for Georgia residents who are not United States citizens.
Q: What background checks are performed on Georgia Weapons License renewals?
A: HB60 removed the requirement for fingerprint background checks on Georgia Weapons License renewals. An applicant for a renewal Georgia Weapons License must submit to one state and two federal criminal background checks. In addition, the probate judge may check the mental health, drug, or alcohol addiction records of the Georgia Department of Human Resources. There are additional checks for Georgia residents who are not United States citizens.
Q: I currently possess a Georgia Firearms License. SB308 requires a Georgia Weapons License. Is my Georgia Firearms License still valid or do I need to apply for a Georgia Weapons License?
A: No, your Georgia Firearms License is valid until the expiration date on the front of the license and now functions as a Georgia Weapons License.
Q: My background check is taking several months, how can I check on the progress?
A: We have created a page to answer just this question: Trust but Verify.
Q: I was convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana charge in 1970, when I was 17. I have had a clean record since then. I am now over 55 years old. Can I obtain a Georgia Weapons License?
A: Yes, with the passage of SB308. You will not be eligible for a license if your conviction was within 5 years immediately preceding your application.
Q: I was convicted of a non-drug related felony years ago. I have had a clean record since then. What can I do to get my firearms rights back?
A: Contact the office that is in charge of granting pardons in the state you were convicted in. If it was Georgia that is the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Q: Do I have to keep my Georgia Weapons License on my person when carrying a firearm?
A: Yes. HB60 requires you to have your GWL on your person anytime you are carrying your firearm anyplace where a license is required to carry. Failure to do so will result in a $10 fine if you produce a GWL that was valid at the time of the arrest when you go to court.
Q: How many Georgia Weapons License holders are there?
A: Currently there are estimated over 1,200,000 Georgia Weapons License holders throughout the state. This is only an estimate due to the fact that there is no central database in GA. However, in 2012, the US Government Accounting Office estimated that there were 600,000 in 2011. That number has been increasing by 11% each year.
Q: Must I be a Georgia resident to apply?
Q: How old do I have to be to obtain a Georgia Weapons License?
A: HB60 lowered the age for persons who have completed basic training in the military, persons in the military or those who have been honorably discharged from the military from 21 to 18. If you do not have the military experience, the age is 21.
Q: I just moved from Gwinnett County to Fulton County. Do I need to change the address on my license?
A: The address can only be changed if your license does not expire within the next 90 days. If so, you must go to the Probate Court and apply for an address change. You will be charged according to the fee specified in paragraph (13) of subsection (k) of Code Section 15-9-60. Currently $6.00 as of May 9, 2017.
Q: I just legally changed my name. Can I change my name on my GWL?
A: Your name can only be changed if your license does not expire within the next 90 days. If so, you must go to the Probate Court and apply for a name change. You will be charged according to the fee specified in paragraph (13) of subsection (k) of Code Section 15-9-60. Currently $6.00 as of May 9, 2017.
Q: My license is lost or stolen. Must I reapply?
A: No. If you report the loss within 48 hours of when you realized it was missing to the probate court, then the probate court must issue you a new license for a $6.00 fee.
Q: I am in the military, do I have to get a Georgia Weapons License?
A: No. You are exempt the same way as police officers are. Your military ID is your proof of exemption from needing a Georgia Weapons License to carry. If you want to carry into nearby states and/or be exempt from a NICS check when purchasing firearm from a dealer then you should get a Georgia Weapons License.
Q: I just moved to GA from a reciprocal state with a valid firearms license, can I carry in GA with it?
A: Yes. You have 90 days after you become a resident of this state; provided, however, that you must carry the weapon in compliance with the laws of this state, and as soon as practicable submit a weapons carry license application as provided for under Code Section 16-11-129, and shall remain licensed in such other state for the duration of time that he or she is a resident of this state but not a weapons carry license holder in this state.
Q: I often visit GA and want to carry a firearm while there, but GA does not honor the license issued by my state, what can I do?
A: Obtain a non-resident permit from a state GA does honor, such as Florida.
Q: Does the state maintain a database of Georgia Weapons License holders?
A: HB60 expressly prohibits the any person or entity, including the state itself, from creating or maintaining a multi-county database of GWL holders.
Q: Where is a list of Georgia Weapons License holders maintained?
A: Each of the 159 County Probate Courts keep a record of the Georgia Weapons Licenses issued in their county. It is illegal for anyone to publish any of these databases.
Q: I?m just curious to know if the prescription drug Paxil or Xanex would prevent a person from getting a Georgia Weapons License?
A: No, it should not prevent you from obtaining a license. The only portion of the statute (16-11-129) even loosely pertaining to such issues is the subsection on inpatient treatment for mental health or alcohol or drug treatment. This subsection is more restrictive than federal law, but it does not address any outpatient treatment.
(J) Any person who has been hospitalized as an inpatient in any mental hospital or alcohol or drug treatment center within the five years immediately preceding the application. The judge of the probate court may require any applicant to sign a waiver authorizing any mental hospital or treatment center to inform the judge whether or not the applicant has been an inpatient in any such facility in the last five years and authorizing the superintendent of such facility to make to the judge a recommendation regarding whether the applicant is a threat to the safety of others and whether a license to carry a weapon should be issued. When such a waiver is required by the judge, the applicant shall pay a fee of $3.00 for reimbursement of the cost of making such a report by the mental health hospital, alcohol or drug treatment center, or the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, which the judge shall remit to the hospital, center, or department. The judge shall keep any such hospitalization or treatment information confidential. It shall be at the discretion of the judge, considering the circumstances surrounding the hospitalization and the recommendation of the superintendent of the hospital or treatment center where the individual was a patient, to issue the weapons carry license or renewal license.