For many people, exercising their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms keeps them feeling safe and protected or allows them to engage in certain hobbies, such as hunting. However, guns are highly regulated to keep people safe, and exercising 2nd Amendment rights isn’t always as easy as walking into a store and purchasing a firearm. There is a process that needs to be followed and obtaining a firearm without completing the necessary steps could result in legal trouble. Some people are specifically barred from owning firearms and could face severe consequences if found with one.
Requirements for Firearm Ownership
Every state has its own firearm ownership laws and sets their own requirements for being able to own and carry a firearm. In Georgia, the requirements for gun ownership are as follows:
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- No felony convictions on their record
- Able to provide a state-issued photo ID
- Able to pass a background check
Certain people may be exempt from some of the requirements. For example, anyone who has successfully obtained a carry permit in Georgia will not be subject to the background check. The background check does not apply to purchases of firearms that are considered antiques or replicas.
People younger than 18 can possess a firearm in certain situations, including:
- While in a firearm safety class
- While at a shooting range practicing target shooting
- While partaking in a competition that uses firearms
- While partaking in a performance that uses firearms
- While fishing or hunting if the landowner gave express permission and the firearm is fully exposed and carried in the open
- On their parent’s property if the parent has given permission
The Process of Purchasing a Firearm in Georgia
Georgia is lenient when it comes to the firearm purchasing process, relatively speaking. In Georgia, you do not need a license to carry in order to purchase a firearm. In addition, there is no necessary waiting period between the purchase of a firearm and possessing the firearm. The only necessary elements to purchasing a firearm in Georgia include being older than 18, being a resident of the state, presenting a photo ID proving residence, and passing a federal background check.
Although Georgia citizens do not need a license to purchase a handgun, they will need to obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License if they intend to carry their weapon concealed. This includes bringing their weapon to any place besides their home, vehicle, or personal place of business. The license is valid for 5 years once received and can be recognized in other states with similar licensing laws.
Eligibility for a Georgia Weapons Carry License includes:
- Being 21 years of age or older
- A state-issued photo ID
- Having clean records, meaning the following people will be denied:
- Anyone with a felony
- Anyone who has spent time in a mental health facility within the past 5 years
- Anyone who has been in a rehabilitation facility for drug addiction within the past 5 years
- Anyone who has an active restraining order against them
- Anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence
- Passing a background check
Who Is Disqualified from Gun Ownership in Georgia?
There are people who are not eligible for firearm ownership in Georgia despite the state’s relatively lenient gun laws. Elements that can lead to the loss of eligibility are similar to those for the concealed carry license. Georgia will not allow someone to own or purchase a firearm if they:
- Have a felony conviction
- Have been convicted of a crime involving the manufacture, possession, or use of a narcotic
- Currently have charges against them for a forcible misdemeanor, a felony, or for carrying a deadly weapon in a prohibited area
- Were hospitalized at a mental health facility or for alcohol or drug abuse in the past 5 years
Illegal Possession of a Firearm
Anyone who is caught possessing a firearm in the state of Georgia despite being prohibited from doing so will receive criminal charges. If someone prohibited from firearm ownership because they have a prior felony is caught with a gun, they may face between 1 and 5 years in prison. Anyone who chooses to carry their firearm without a license could receive a misdemeanor charge, a fine of $1,000, and a year in prison. They will receive a felony charge and a prison sentence up to 5 years long for subsequent offenses.
Defenses for Unlawful Firearm Possession Charges
It is very serious for someone to be accused of possessing a firearm when they are not legally allowed to. Experienced legal counsel can help someone in that position craft a strong defense to their case by reviewing all of the circumstances in detail. Some examples of common defenses for charges of unlawful possession of a firearm include:
- The defendant had no knowledge: The accused party must be aware of the weapon in their possession to be convicted. If the defendant and their legal team can compile evidence that they did not know the gun was in their possession, it can help their case immensely.
- The firearm was in someone else’s possession: Law officers may make a mistake determining who possessed a firearm they discover during an arrest. Presenting evidence that the firearm was in a different person’s possession is a strong defense.
- No evidence: A lack of evidence can be a strong defense if the defendant’s legal counsel can show it would be impossible to know the defendant possessed the weapon beyond a reasonable doubt.
We’re On Your Side
At Daniels & Taylor, P.C., we understand the serious nature of weapons charges and want to work with you to protect both your rights and best interests. We are prepared to fight tirelessly to protect you from consequences such as a permanent criminal record and jail time. If you have been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and need legal counsel, reach out today. Contact us at (770) 285-1673 or online today for a free consultation.