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Georgia Gun Control Laws

In the U.S. today, gun violence remains a significant problem. But, political consensus on how to best address it is not easy to find. Gridlock in Congress prevents new federal legislation. As a result, states must balance the rights of gun owners with public safety concerns.

Georgia strikes that balance in favor of gun rights. It does not ban assault weapons and keeps gun regulations to a minimum. In 2022, it removed the rule that people seeking to carry a concealed handgun in public first pass a criminal background check and get a state firearms license.

Federal Firearms Law

A key component of federal gun law appears in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The constitutional right to bear arms has supported citizens' efforts to own guns for self-protection in the home for many years. More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Second Amendment to encompass a broad right to have firearms for self-defense in public as well.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) oversees the licensing of gun dealers. It also acts as a law enforcement agency that pursues federal gun crimes like illegal firearms trafficking and unlawful possession of firearms by felons.

Georgia Gun Control Laws

States govern how their residents may buy, have, and use firearms. They also govern the prohibition of certain types of guns and weapons. Georgia gun control laws are less restrictive than many other states.

In Georgia, there is no waiting period to buy guns. If you buy a firearm through a federally licensed gun dealer, then the dealer will conduct a background check on the buyer's criminal history before delivery of the weapon. If you buy a gun through a private transaction or at a gun show, the seller has no duty to run a background check.

As in most other states, Georgia law bans convicted felons and mentally ill people from owning firearms. State law does not ban those with domestic violence convictions or protection orders from possessing guns. But, in most circumstances federal law prohibitions will apply and cover such situations.

Georgia Firearm Carry Laws

In 2022, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law allowing permitless carry of handguns by Georgia residents who are not prohibited from possessing firearms. Permitless carry laws (or constitutional carry) operate on a version of the honor system. State law leaves it to you to determine if you are a "lawful weapons carrier" — a person not otherwise banned from having a gun under state or federal law. Before, state residents had to file an application and pass a criminal background check before the state granted them a weapons carry license (WCL).

The Georgia General Assembly also passed a campus carry law in 2017 (and amended it in 2022) that allows a lawful weapons carrier to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses. There are certain exceptions where people can't carry firearms, including campus housing, sporting events, preschool or childcare spaces, faculty or administrative offices, and classes where there are high school students.

Many people still apply to their county probate judge for a WCL to qualify for reciprocity with other states' gun laws. Eligibility criteria include being 21 years old, submitting your fingerprints, and not being a prohibited person under state or federal law.

Whether a lawful weapons carrier has a WCL permit, they must still follow location restrictions on where they can carry a firearm. In Georgia, you can't bring a firearm to the following places:

  • Courthouse
  • Jail or prison
  • Place of worship (unless the governing body or authority permits a lawful weapons carrier to carry a gun)
  • State mental health facility
  • The premises of a nuclear power facility
  • Within 150 feet of a polling place during an election
  • Private property (where the owner or person in control of the property has provided notice of a prohibition)

A lawful weapons carrier may carry a concealed firearm into a government building unless security personnel screen or restrict entry.

Georgia Gun Laws at a Glance

Learn more about Georgia gun control laws in the following summary table. See Details on State Gun Control Laws for more general information.

Relevant Georgia gun control laws

Georgia statutes

Title 16 — Crimes and Offenses, Chapter 11 — Offenses Against Public Order and Safety

  • Section 16-11-101.1 — Furnishing pistol or revolver to a person under 18
  • Section 16-11-113 — Solicitation of a dealer to convey firearm to a non-buyer; knowingly and intentionally providing firearms to felons
  • Section 16-11-121 — Definitions
  • Section 16-11-122 — Possession of certain types of firearms, dangerous weapons, and silencers prohibited
  • Section 16-11-126 — Possessing or carrying a handgun, long gun, or other weapon; license required; etc.
  • Section 16-11-127 — Carrying a weapon in an unauthorized location
  • Section 16-11-127.1 — Weapons in school safety zones, school buildings, or grounds, or at school functions
  • Section 16-11-127.2 — Possession of weapons on nuclear power facility premises
  • Section 16-11-129 — Weapons carry license; gun safety information; etc.
  • Section 16-11-130.1 — School personnel possessing or carrying weapons in school safety zone
  • Section 16-11-130.2 — Possession of a weapon in airport restricted access area; penalties
  • Section 16-11-131 — Convicted felons; possession of firearms prohibited
  • Section 16-11-132 — Possession of a handgun by a person under 18
  • Section 16-11-135 — Employer shall not search locked, privately owned vehicles
  • Section 16-11-160 — Possession of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, sawed-off rifles, firearms with silencers during the commission of certain offenses; enhanced penalties
Illegal arms

Under most circumstances, it's illegal to possess the following arms in Georgia:

  • Sawed-off shotgun
  • Sawed-off rifle
  • Machine gun
  • Dangerous weapon ("rocket launcher," "bazooka" or "recoilless rifle," "mortar," "hand grenade")
  • Silencer

See Section 16-11-124 for the exemptions from the ban.

Waiting period There is no waiting period to buy a gun in Georgia.
Who may not own

Under state law:

  • A person with a felony conviction can't possess a firearm
  • A person under 18 years of age cannot have a handgun (limited exceptions)
  • Under federal law:
  • A person convicted in court of a crime punishable by a term exceeding one year
  • A person who is a fugitive from justice
  • A person who is an unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance
  • A person who has a mental defect or was committed to a mental institution
  • A person who is in the U.S. illegally
  • A person who has an Armed Forces dishonorable discharge
  • A person who has renounced their U.S. citizenship
  • A person who is subject to a court order restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of an intimate partner
  • A person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence
License required? No. In Georgia, a permit is not required to have a firearm.
Concealed carry license required?

No. Georgia is a "permitless carry" state. Anyone who is a "lawful weapons carrier" may carry a handgun or long gun in public in the state. A "lawful weapons carrier" is a person who has a license or is eligible for a weapons carry license and is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a weapon or long gun. But, some locations prohibit carrying a firearm.

Open carry allowed?

Yes. If you are a "lawful weapons carrier," you may openly carry a firearm in Georgia. However, some locations prohibit it.

Eligibility for a concealed carry license

To get a weapons carry license (WCL) in Georgia, you must apply to your local probate court. You must meet the following qualifications:

  • You must be 21 years old (except for those at least 18 and serving in the Armed Forces).
  • You must be a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States.
  • You can't have any felony convictions or have pending proceedings against you for a felony offense.
  • You can't have a criminal conviction involving the unlawful manufacture or distribution of any controlled substance or dangerous drug
  • You can't have a conviction in the last five years for carrying a weapon or long gun in an unauthorized location
  • You can't have certain misdemeanor convictions for the use or possession of a controlled substance in the last five years
  • You can't have been hospitalized as an inpatient in any mental health hospital or alcohol or drug treatment center within the last five years
  • You can't have been adjudicated mentally incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of a crime
  • You must not be a fugitive or have an arrest warrant
  • You must not be prohibited from possessing or shipping a firearm in interstate commerce under federal law
  • You must not have your WCL permit revoked within three years before filing your application.
Machine gun laws Generally, possession of a machine gun is illegal. Exceptions may apply for those authorized and registered under federal law, law enforcement officers, and military members.
Penalties for illegal firearm possession
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm after conviction for a felony is a felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.
  • Unlawful carry of a firearm can lead to a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. On a second or subsequent offense within five years, the charge becomes a felony, punishable by two to five years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.
Penalties for illegal possession on or near school grounds Illegal possession of a firearm on or near school grounds is a felony. If the person charged is a lawful weapons carrier, the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Otherwise, the offense is a felony, punishable by two to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Red flag law? No. Georgia has not enacted a red flag law that permits a court to seize or prohibit the possession of firearms by a person found to be a threat to self or others.
Universal background checks? No. Georgia does not require gun purchases happening through private sales (including gun shows) to go through a licensed dealer for a criminal background check.
Stand your ground law? Yes. Georgia law permits the use of force for self-defense or defense of others. In lawful circumstances, a person can stand their ground and respond to an imminent threat or use of force with appropriate force (including deadly force) without the duty to first retreat.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

State Gun Laws After The Bruen Decision

In 2022, the Supreme Court struck down a New York state gun license law in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. BruenThe Court's 6-3 majority went further in its ruling than only addressing deficiencies in the New York law. It announced a new "historical" test for courts to use when reviewing firearm laws interfering with a person's right to bear arms.

The Bruen test requires the government to show that its public safety gun regulation is consistent with firearm regulations that existed when the Second Amendment became law. Several gun rights organizations and people have challenged longstanding state and federal gun laws based on the Court's holding.

In 2024, the Supreme Court addressed a legal challenge to the federal statute that bans those with active domestic violence protection orders from possessing firearms. In U.S. v. Rahimi, a person convicted under that law claimed his conviction should be overturned based on Bruen. The Supreme Court disagreed. By a vote of 8-1, the Court upheld the law and the conviction.

The Court concluded that when a restraining order "contains a finding that an individual poses a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner, that individual may — consistent with the Second Amendment — be banned from possessing firearms while that order is in effect." The Court clarified that in cases that impact the right to bear arms, a reviewing court must determine "whether the new law is 'relevantly similar' to laws that our tradition is understood to permit, applying faithfully the balance struck by the founding generation to modern circumstances."

Georgia Gun Laws: Related Resources

Learn More About Georgia Gun Control Laws From an Attorney

Even with Georgia's fairly permissive gun laws, there are circumstances where the right to go armed may need to be clarified. If you have concerns about whether you can carry a concealed firearm in Georgia or if you're dealing with charges for a gun law violation, then you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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