Recently, Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 319 (SB 319), the bill which allows people to carry weapons without permits.
The Georgia State Senate passed a final version of the gun law 34-23 on party lines.
Thanks to SB 319, individuals wanting to carry a concealed weapon don't need to get a license from their local probate court or sheriff's office. They don’t have to get their fingerprints taken, pass a background check, and pay an application fee of up to $75 anymore.
Georgia Senate Passed Senate Bill 319, Allowing Georgians to Carry Weapons Without Permits
With SB 319, law-abiding Georgians do not have to obtain a concealed carry license. SB 319 allows a "lawful weapons carrier" to carry a concealed handgun throughout areas where license holders are permitted. It means guns are still prohibited in airports and government buildings.
A background check is still required when purchasing a handgun from a store or dealer.
SB 319 is also known as "constitutional carry." Law-abiding Georgians can now defend themselves without obtaining permission from the state government.
Georgia now joined the ranks of over 20 other states that allow people to carry weapons without a permit.
According to state data, a small number of Georgians apply for permits every year, and only a fraction are turned down.
In 2020, more than 280,000 permits were issued, with around 5,300 rejected, the majority of them for criminal history.
It is still possible to carry long guns without a license.
Possession of Firearms by Minors and Convicted Felons with a Criminal History
If convicted of certain crimes or are facing charges, it is illegal to own guns. The same applies if mental health problems exist or if an individual was unwittingly hospitalized in the last five years.
House Bill 218 - Interstate Gun Carry & Permit Holders From Other States
Governor Kemp also signed a companion bill (HB 218) expanding reciprocity for gun owners in the state. Georgians will still be able to get concealed-carry permits to take advantage of interstate agreements allowing firearm transportation.
Concealed carry permit holders from other states can also carry in Georgia. HB 218 protects individuals permitted to carry weapons in another state from being penalized or fined here in Georgia.
HB 218 now recognizes permits granted by other states to non-Georgians. The amendment ensures that individuals who move between states are not left unprotected. It also applies to tourists to Georgia.
HB 218 also forbids officials from suspending or restricting Second Amendment rights during declared states of emergency. This includes seizing firearms, limiting gun carrying, or discriminating against gun stores.
The state licensing procedure will stay in place. This allows Georgians to take advantage of gun carry "reciprocity" with other states to permit firearm owners to conceal their weapons in states that grant the same rights.
Before the Passing of SB 219
Until this Bill, residents needed a Weapons Carry License (WCL) to carry a concealed weapon in public. They could still carry rifles and shotguns without a permit and carry unloaded guns in cases.
Beyond the previous checks, applicants had to pass a criminal background check, pay an average fee of $75, and submit their fingerprints.
History of Gun laws in Georgia
- Georgia became a "Stand Your Ground" state on July 1, 2006. It no longer had an obligation to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.
- On June 8, 2010, Governor Sonny Perdue signed Senate Bill 308. It revised and clarified several of Georgia's gun laws.
- On April 23, 2014, Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 60 (the Safe Carry Protection Act). The Safe Carry Protection Act modified many existing gun rules. It would change many prior gun legislation.
- In 2017, the Georgia legislature passed HB 280. It would permit concealed weapons license holders to carry on public college campuses.
There has been widespread concern for safety among Georgia residents due to a spike in violent crime in Georgia and across the country.
Residents don't have to carry if they don't want to, but now they don't need a government-issued piece of paper to carry a weapon lawfully under Georgia Law.