Georgia allows residents to carry open and concealed with a valid Weapons Carry License. Any resident is entitled to apply for a license so long as they meet the eligibility and application requirements. In this blog, we will review all the conditions for obtaining a license to carry in Georgia, as well as special eligibility exceptions for retired military and law enforcement officers.
Obtaining a Weapons Carry License
Georgia’s Weapons Carry License (WCL), also called a firearms license, allows individuals to legally carry a concealed firearm in the state. Note that you do not need a WCL to purchase a firearm, but open carry is legal in Georgia only with a Georgia Weapons Carry License (WCL). Concealed carry is also legal for residents of Georgia with a WCL and non-residents with a license/permit issued by a state that Georgia honors. (Check out the official website for state reciprocity laws here). Further, be aware that no license is needed to carry a handgun in a person’s home, vehicle, place of business, while fishing or hunting, or unloaded in a case.
Typically, a permit holder is allowed a 90-day window just before expiration or a 30-day period immediately following expiration to renew their WCL without penalty. In light of COVID-19, however, this time limit is now frozen by virtue of a statewide emergency order that went into effect amid the pandemic. Instead, those with licenses that expire during the state of emergency period must apply for a renewal license within 120 days of the expiration date on the face of the license.
To apply for a WCL, you must meet the following age requirements:
- 21 or older;
- 18 or older if you are in the military, have completed basic training, and can provide proof that you are either on active duty or have been honorably discharged.
Beyond the age requirements, you must also:
- be a Georgia resident;
- be a U.S. citizen or legal resident;
- have no felony convictions or pending criminal proceedings;
- have no drug convictions (using or possessing drugs, making drugs, distributing a controlled substance);
- have no other disqualifying convictions (carrying concealed without a license, domestic violence);
- have not been in a mental hospital or drug or alcohol treatment center within the last 5 years;
- have not been committed to a mental hospital against your will.
Also, in some situations, individuals may ask for approval from the county probate judge to waive an eligibility requirement. Consult an attorney in such a situation, who can better help you argue your case.
Information You’ll Need
In preparation for your application, be sure to collect the following information depending on your eligibility:
- the location of your county probate court (call 1-800-GEORGIA or 1-800-436-7442 for assistance);
- Georgia Hunting License (obtained through www.georgiawildlife.com) ;
- proof of identity;
- proof of Georgia residency:
- a valid Georgia Driver's License or state-issued photo ID card,
- a valid Resident Alien card,
- a Permanent Resident Card, or
- employment authorization with a valid Georgia Driver’s License or Georgia-issued photo ID.
- proof of U.S. citizenship or your INS number;
- form of payment (the average fee is $75, but it varies by county);
- self-addressed stamped envelope (if you would like to have your license mailed to you instead of picking it up in person);
- proof of completion of basic training and being on active duty in the US armed forces
- presentation of a Military ID card with the notation “Active Duty,”
- military orders that identify specific dates of being on active duty, or
- a letter from the active duty service member’s Commanding Officer or JAG office, stating that they were currently on active duty serving in Georgia with an honorable character of service.
- proof of an honorable discharge identifying the veteran's completion of basic training and honorable character of service at discharge.
To apply for the license, bring the relevant required materials listed above to your local probate court. Individuals should request a WCL application from the clerk and submit the form, as well as pay a non-refundable license fee. The total cost of a WCL is around $75 depending on your local court, and individuals may pay via cash, personal checks, or credit cards. This fee is waived (with the exception of a $7 fee to create the physical license) for retired law enforcement officers who had arresting powers and who worked 10 of the 12 years prior to their retirement. Note that proof of retirement is required upon application.
The application process also entails providing fingerprints. Depending on the probate court’s process, they will either take your fingerprints there or give you a Law Enforcement Affidavit to have your fingerprints taken at a Police Department, which you will need to do within 5 days of submitting your application. If you are not fingerprinted within 5 business days, your application will be administratively dismissed, and you will be required to reapply and pay full filing fees.
Within 5 days, a county probate judge will also request an applicant’s criminal history records check and a background check, and after about 30 days, law enforcement will finish the background check and determine whether the application can receive a WCL. Licenses are valid for 5 years.
Questions? Contact Daniels & Taylor, P.C.
If you have legal questions about obtaining a license to carry in Georgia, or if you have concerns about renewal, do not hesitate to contact our firm for advice. Our attorneys can provide the legal guidance you need in your firearms-related case.
Contact our firm at Daniels & Taylor, P.C. for more information today.