Georgia Weapons Carry Licensing

First in a series of articles intent on providing information on Gun ownership, licensing and laws. It should be noted that I am not a lawyer and the following information should be taken only as a reference and should not to be construed as legal advice or as complete statements of law.

One of the integral parts of gun ownership is being able to carry a firearm, pursuant of individual state laws, in public and either openly or concealed. Each state has established certain criteria for gun ownership, licensing, and method of carry. There are not any existing Federal laws or criteria for carrying a firearm outside of the limitation within Federally prohibited areas. But because of reciprocity between some states that issue carry licenses, there is a Federal statue providing for the legal transportation of firearms across state borders:

18 U.S. Code § 926A – Interstate transportation of firearms
…any person, who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any where he may lawfully posses and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully posses and carry such firearm…

Attention should be made to individual state qualifications on how a firearm, whether it be a hand gun or long gun, should be stored within a vehicle during transportation and the adherence to the laws of the state being visited if the firearm is to be carried.

Allowed and restricted areas of firearm carry will be explained in a future article.

Many states do not require licensing for different methods of firearm (handgun and long gun) carry while other states do so and may also include additional restrictions. The State of Georgia does not require a license to carry a firearm within one’s home (domicile) or within their property line. The property inclusion does consider a motor vehicle as property and further allows for unlicensed carry within one’s own business. Additionally the State of Georgia does not require licensing of carrying a long gun outside of one’s own property, but with conditions. As such, all references to ‘firearm’ in the rest of this article shall mean a ‘hand gun’.

Georgia Weapons Carry License

The State of Georgia is a ‘Shall Issue’ state, meaning that an applicant, after meeting certain requirements shall be issued a license to carry. Before January 1, 2012 the license was called ‘Georgia Firearm License’. Any license issued after January 1, 2012 is known as ‘Georgia Weapons Carry License’, (GWCL). This change reflects that Georgia also considers a knife over 5″ long as a weapon. The license allows for carrying a firearm and/or a knife that is over 5″ in length.

Note: Local jurisdictions may have varying definitions of what is a legal length for a knife. Careful attention must be made if you are not licensed and carry a knife that is close to the state recognized length.

With a GWCL, a licensee may carry a firearm, either concealed or openly, in public outside of their home and property. There are certain areas that a GWCL holder may not legally carry but as with Federally prohibited areas, this will be outlined in a future article.

GWCL Application Process

The State of Georgia has determined that firearm application filings and processing to be done through the applicant’s local county Probate Court as administered by a Probate Judge.

The historical reason for applications to be processed by the judge or once was known as an ‘Ordinary’, of the local Probate Court in Georgia was borne out of ‘legally’ inhibiting freedmen the ability to own firearms. This will be detailed in a future article.

Requirements for submitting a carry license application:

Applicant must be at least 21years of age unless the applicant is at 18years of age and is in active military service and has received proper basic firearm training or has been honorably discharged.

Be a U.S. Citizen or provide proof of legal residence if the applicant is not a citizen of the United States

Have proof of residence in the county they seek to apply for the license

Provide a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (S.A.S.E.)

Complete the application form

Pay the license application fee

Pay for and be fingerprinted.

By submitting an application and fingerprints, you are stating that you are willing to submit to a criminal records background check that is performed by the GBI, FBI and a mental health records check.


When filling out the application form, it may ask you for your Social Security number. It is not required and you do not have to provide it if you do not wish to.
Each Georgia county has its own use of the S.A.S.E.. Some counties will send you the license once it is approved. Others will send you a notification that you have been approved and to pick up the license at the central Probate Court for you county.
Fingerprinting can be done at your local Law Enforcement station and incurs a separate fee. As of July 1, 2014, a third party agency, approved by the G.B.I., in addition to your local Law Enforcement station will be able to process fingerprints. Also, fingerprinting for renewing a license is no longer required.
The method of payment of any or all fees are dependent of the local Probate Court and Law enforcement agency/Third party vendor. It is advised that you check online for the appropriate county probate office for the exact application process for your county and payment details.

Weapons carry license Process

Per the O.C.G.A. (Official Code of Georgia Annotated) 16-11-129:

Application for weapons carry license or renewal license; term. The judge of the probate court of each county may, on application under oath and on payment of a fee of $30.00, issue a weapons carry license or renewal license valid for a period of five years.

An applicant who is not a United States citizen shall provide sufficient personal identifying data, including without limitation his or her place of birth and United States issued alien or admission number, as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation may prescribe by rule or regulation.

An applicant who is in nonimmigrant status shall provide proof of his or her qualifications for an exception to the federal firearm prohibition pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 922(y).

No weapons carry license shall be issued to:

Any person younger than 21 years of age unless he or she:
Is at least 18 years of age;
Provides proof that he or she has completed basic training in the armed forces of the United States; and
Provides proof that he or she is actively serving in the armed forces of the United States or has been honorably discharged from such service
Any person who has been convicted of a felony;

Any person against whom proceedings are pending for any felony;

Any person who is a fugitive from justice;

Any person who is prohibited from possessing or shipping a firearm in interstate commerce pursuant to subsections (g) and (n) of 18 U.S.C. Section 922;

Any person who has been convicted of an offense arising out of the unlawful manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance or other dangerous drug;

Any person who has had his or her weapons carry license revoked
Any person who has been convicted of any of the following:

Carrying a weapon without a weapons carry license in violation of Code Section 16-11-126 (Carrying a weapon without a license); or
Carrying a weapon or long gun in an unauthorized location in violation of Code Section 16-11-127 (Carrying a weapon or long gun in an unauthorized location)

and has not been free of all restraint or supervision in connection therewith and free of any other conviction for at least five years immediately preceding the date of the application;

Any person who has been convicted of any misdemeanor involving the use or possession of a controlled substance and has not been free of all restraint or supervision in connection therewith or free of:

A second conviction of any misdemeanor involving the use or possession of a controlled substance;

for at least five years immediately preceding the date of the application;

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. 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;

Any person who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent to stand trial; or

Any person who has been adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime

GWCL Application Background Check Process

After submitting the application and be fingerprinted, the Probate Judge has five days to request direct the law enforcement agency to request a fingerprint based criminal history records check from the GBI’s Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) and the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for purposes of determining the suitability of the applicant. An additional request can be made for mental health, drug, or alcohol addiction records of the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

Once the Probate Judge has received the results of the background checks he will either approve or reject the application. If approved, the license will be processed. Depending on the county in which the license is issued, a notification that the license is ready to be picked up at the Probate Court or the license will be included in the notification. This process should not take any longer than the state prescribed 60day turnaround. If rejected, you may have legal recourse, depending on the reason for rejection, to appeal in court the said reason for the rejection.

With the GWCL, you can carry a firearm, either openly or concealed, within non-restricted areas. The GWCL is honored by other states that has reciprocity with Georgia. Additionally, a GWCL will serve as a background check for purchasing a firearm from an authorized FFL dealer.

As of July 1, 2014, a licensee of a GWCL must have on their possession or in reasonable proximity when they are carrying a firearm.

‘Just the (Gun) facts, ma’am’

I get upset when I hear people talk of firearms and through their use of terms reveal themselves that they don’t know what they are talking about and haven’t taken the time to learn that the correct terminology.

As previously stated, this will be continually updated with new terms as time and need arises.



The purpose of a firearm is to propel a projectile, usually as a direct result of combustion, through a tube at a certain velocity.

The use of a firearm can take on number of purposes: Sport Competition, Target Shooting (Plinking), Hunting, Offensive and Defensive purposes.

‘Assault’ Rifle

A true ‘Assault’ weapon rifle is one that can fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull, also known as ‘select fire’ going from three round bursts to fully automatic. This cannot be owned by the general public except by obtaining a Class III firearm license that has to be approved by the ATF and is cost prohibitive. All firearms that are legally owned without special licensing are semi-automatic. One round for one trigger pull.

The Gun Act of 1994 politically assigned the name of ‘Assault’ Weapon to any common semi-automatic rifle that had characteristics of a Military Type Weapon. For example, if the rifle had a pistol grip or a collapsible stock, it was deemed an ‘Assault’ weapon and was banned. This did not ban the rifle itself, only if it had the characteristics or looked ‘scary’. Manufacturers simply eliminated those ‘Assault’ markers and continued producing the same basic rifle. Add to that the fact that the existing weapons remained in circulation; this in itself should nullify the concept that the ban had any positive reductions in crime.

Brass, See Casing


The metal projectile of a round that is expelled when the propellent charge or gunpowder is ignited


Also known as ‘Brass’. One of the components of an ammunition round that holds a measured amount of gunpowder or propellent charge to be ignited when a firing pin strikes the primer of an ammunition round.


A device that is used to store multiple rounds of ammunition together as a unit, ready for insertion into the magazine or cylinder of a firearm. This is not to be confused with a magazine.


The approximate internal diameter of a barrel, or the diameter of the projectile used in it.

Conceal Carry

Method of carry by a licensed gun owner (depending on individual states laws and requirements). A firearm can be carried concealed, either by using a IWB (Inside WaistBand) holster or covering the firearm with an untucked shirt or coat.

FFL – Federal Firearms License

A license that enables an individual or a company to engage in a business pertaining to the manufacture of firearms and ammunition or the interstate and intrastate sale of firearms. Holding an FFL to engage in certain such activities has been a legal requirement within the United States of America since the enactment of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Four Safety Rules

These were developed by Jeff Cooper and they have become the mantra of all responsible gun owners. They are applied to any and all firearms loaded or unloaded and failure to follow them can produce stern reprimand from fellow gun enthusiasts.


  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.




Georgia Crime Information Center. established in 1973 as an operating division within the GBI to serve as the chief provider of criminal justice information services in Georgia.


Law Enforcement Officer. Usually a police officer but it can mean an officer who’s title provides enforcement privileges to uphold the laws for any given jurisdiction that they serve.


A detachable ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm.

Magazine Capacity

The number of rounds that be loaded into a magazine. There is not a standard capacity size. Each firearm manufacturer balances function with design. The term, ‘High Capacity’ magazine is for a magazine that can hold a high number of rounds and can trace it’s roots to the 1790s.

Method of carry, See Conceal Carry; Open Carry

The method of carrying a firearm, usually Open or Concealed Carry in reference to a pistol or revolver.

Negligent Discharge (N.D.)

The unintentional discharge of a round from a firearm. This term is preferable to an ‘Accidental Discharge’ as guns cannot fire on their own. A N.D. is a direct result of failing to always treat a firearm as if it was loaded.


The National Firearms Act (N.F.A.), was enacted in 1934 in order to regulate certain types of firearms to include their ownership and transfer. These types of firearms are not illegal to own (not banned) but must be registered with the A.T.F. through special licensing and tax stamps in which fees, usually high, are paid.


The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (N.I.C.S.), was established in 1998 by the F.B.I. as a result of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Law) of 1993. It is used to determine of a potential buyer is eligible to buy a firearm or explosives. For a firearm, a buyer must complete form, ATF 4473. After which the seller, usually a FFL holder or licensed dealer, contacts N.I.C.S. where three separate database checks are performed and the results, usually a few minutes, provided on whether the sale can take place.

There is a separate background check performed by the state where the transaction is to take place. For Georgia, the additional background check goes through the G.B.I.s G.C.I.C.


Official Code of Georgia Annotated is the compendium of all active laws in the U.S. state of Georgia.

One of the features of the O.C.G.A. is that it provides historical reference to previous enactments of a particular code. This is invaluable to researching the history of a particular code and understanding of its source.


The process and agreement where one state reciprocates in recognizing a firearm carry license with another state. The licensee of the other state must adhere to the laws and regulation of the state they are visiting.


An ammunition round that has four basic physical components, a primer, a casing, gunpowder, and a bullet. A primer is attached at the one end of a casing and provides ignition to the gunpowder. The casing holds the gunpowder or propellant charge to be ignited when the firing pin strikes the primer, a bullet that is crimped at the other end of the casing, and is projected down the barrel by the expanding gas of the ignited gunpowder contained within the chamber of a firearm.


Squib (or Squib Load)

A bullet that didn’t receive enough pressure to be projected completely out of a barrel. This potentially dangerous situation is caused when the propellant in a round either didn’t burn completely or there was a short load of propellent in a round. The firearm may cycle another round into the chamber and cause an catastrophic explosion when the new round is fired and the bullet strikes the previous bullet in the barrel. This has enough force to cause the barrel and/or chamber to split open and produce shrapnel. A squib will have a distinctive but muted sound that will indicate that one has occurred. Care must be taken if you hear a squib or have a round that doesn’t fire. Visually clearing the chamber and checking the barrel for any blockage is necessary to ensure that the firearm can safely be used.