“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." U.S. Const. amend. II.
This Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is generally referred to simply as the “right to bear arms.” The United States Supreme Court recently addressed the Second Amendment and found that, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). Our Second Amendment right is regulated by each specific state.
Georgia’s specific law is the "Georgia Firearms and Weapons Act." O.C.G.A. § 16-11-120. In Georgia, the Judge of the Probate Court in your county has the authority to issue a valid firearms permit to qualified applicants. This firearm permit “shall authorize that person to carry any pistol or revolver in any county of this state notwithstanding any change in that person´s county of residence or state of domicile.” O.C.G.A. § 16-11-129. Qualified applicants must: (1) Be a resident of Georgia; (2) Be a United States citizen, a valid resident alien, or a permanent resident; (3) Be at least twenty one years of age; (4) have a clear mental history (no hospitalization as an inpatient in any mental hospital or alcohol or drug treatment center within five years); and (5) Clear a criminal background check. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-129.
It is important to note that Georgia carry permits refer specifically to handguns and a permit is not required to carry a “long gun” as long as you meet the requirements listed above. A Georgia permit is also not required to carry a weapon on your property – such as inside your home, inside your vehicle, or inside your place of business. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-125. On June 4, 2010 Georgia Senate Bill 308 was passed and changed some of the preexisting Georgia laws regarding where an individual is allowed to carry a firearm. Currently, with a valid permit you can carry a handgun: in a restaurant, in a bar only if the owner of the bar grants permission, in your car in the parking lot of a place of worship, and in most public places such as parks and historic areas. Georgia Senate Bill 308.
Even with a valid firearms permit you cannot carry a handgun in Georgia government buildings, including school property. It is also always illegal to carry a handgun while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
People are often curious to discover that Georgia firearms law does not require you to register your firearm, but some weapons must be registered under federal laws such as, the National Firearm Act (NFA) of 1934, and Federal Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968.
Finally, Georgia firearms law has “reciprocity” allowing those with a valid Georgia firearm permit to carry in another state. “Georgia reciprocates in recognizing firearms licenses with the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.” Georgia.gov.