National Firearm Act gun trusts are an excellent way to preserve your Second Amendment rights. For example, gun trust transfers do not require Chief Law Enforcement Officer signatures. The CLEO loophole gives local police chiefs or sheriffs almost absolute power to block firearms transfers for any reason they see fit.
Furthermore, gun trusts prevent accidental felonies. These situations are quite common. Gun owners sometimes leave a firearm in a car’s trunk. If the police pull over a non-owner and find the gun, that person could be charged with a felony.
Like other kinds of trusts, NFA gun trusts have some additional benefits. They preserve privacy, avoid transfer taxes, and allow gun owners to pass their values along to the next generation.
Back to gun owner rights. Most people know that the Second Amendment gives people the right to “keep and bear” arms. In modern language, that phrase basically means “own and possess” firearms.
But this right, and other Constitutional rights, are not unlimited. The federal government can regulate them in certain situations. A person has the right to free speech, but no one can yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Groups can hold relatively noisy demonstrations, but not in a hospital zone at midnight. Police officers must have search warrants to seize property, unless an exception applies. The list goes on.
So, it is important to know your gun ownership and possession rights. They are not the same in every state. And, decisionmakers can limit them almost at will, so long as these limitations meet some arbitrary standards.
Where is My Georgia CCW Permit Valid?
When people first look into something like a permit for carrying a concealed weapon, its validity is one of their first questions. If the permit is only valid in Georgia, there may not be much point in looking further. After all, most people relocate about a dozen times in their adult lifetimes. Many of these moves involve crossing state lines.
Georgia permits are valid almost nationwide. Only the bluest of blue states, like California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, and roughly a dozen others, do not permit people to carry weapons with Georgia permits.
Many states that recognize Georgia CCW permits are permitless carry states. Individuals do not need a permit to carry a handgun in Arizona, Kansas, Alaska, New Hampshire, Mississippi, and a few other states. Some of these jurisdictions, like North Dakota and Wyoming, only allow residents to carry guns without permits.
CCW permit reciprocity normally applies as long as the permit is valid in the issuing state and the licensee is at least 21. Many other restrictions apply as well, especially regarding the time, place, and manner of firearms possession. We’ll get to them below.
How Do I Apply for A CCW Permit?
An NFA gun trust settlor (person who creates a trust) must be a licensed gun owner in Georgia. The process can be completed mostly online. Applicants still must sign their applications in person at a local probate court. But, at least they won’t have to spend all day there.
As of February 2019, the filing fee is generally $75. It may be less if the applicant is active military, a retired law enforcement officer, or fits into another eligible category. Other requirements include:
- S. citizen or eligible resident alien (not all lawful resident aliens are CCW eligible),
- At least 21, or at least 18 if you are active duty or honorably discharged military, and
- A resident of the county issuing the CCW license.
Proof of residency usually means a current lease or a current utility bill (electricity, gas, or water only). Sometimes, a current drivers’ license or state ID card will do, but don’t count on it. Applicants must also present copies of their birth certificates or U.S. passports.
Renewal is usually easy and may be available online, if the CCW license is not more than 30 days expired.
What if I Just Moved to Georgia?
Out-of-state CCW permits are valid in Georgia for 90 days, as long as the licensee diligently attempts to obtain a Georgia CCW license as soon as possible after relocating. Additionally, Georgia prohibited place laws apply, even if the license is from out of state.
Special provisions apply to people just passing through the state. That category includes people like military service members who are temporarily deployed at Fort Benning or another Georgia military base.
What are the “Magnificent Seven” Off-Limits CCW Places?
Our Constitution is basically a bundle of compromises. When they gathered in 1787, some Constitutional Convention delegates wanted a strong central government wherein the president basically ruled like a king. Others wanted a government dominated by individual states which was a nation in name only. The result is somewhere in between.
Likewise, the liberties we enjoy are all compromises. We have freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights as long as they do not infringe on the liberties of others. When we exercise our rights, that exercise also cannot interfere with the state’s police power to keep people safe.
Most states have a list of prohibited CCW places much like Georgia’s. Some of the categories are straightforward, but most of them are quite complex. The Magnificent Seven list in Georgia is:
- Government Building: A place like the State Capitol or FBI regional headquarters is obviously a government building. But this designation also extends to mixed-use developments. For example, places like DMV branches and tax assessor offices are often in strip malls. Does that mean the entire strip mall is a prohibited place, or just the government building itself?
- Jail or Prison: Perhaps your office cubicle might feel like a jail or prison sometimes. But it is not. Quite frankly, anyone who tries to take a gun into a jailhouse probably should not be carrying a gun at all.
- Nuclear Power Facility: Similarly, carrying a gun inside a nuclear power plant is probably a bad idea. Yes, this prohibition went sideways in Aliens, but that was just a movie.
- Courthouse: We all know what a “courthouse” is, right? It’s an imposing stone building in the center of town that possibly dates back to the Civil War era. But not all courthouses look like courthouses. That’s especially true of a place like a night court annex. During the day, it’s arguably just another building.
- Place of Worship: Similarly, not all churches have steeples, not all mosques have domes, and so on. In fact, most places of worship do not look like places of worship. Additionally, many churches sponsor food banks, clothes closets, and community events. Are these prohibited CCW places as well?
- Mental Health Facility: There are some technicalities here. First, the prohibition only applies to state mental hospitals. Does that qualifier mean hospitals which are state-un or state funded, at least in part? Second, the CCW limit only applies if the hospital involuntarily commits people. How is a visitor supposed to know the hospital’s policies?
- Polling Place: Georgia law prohibits guns within 150 feet of a polling place. That’s basically half a football field. That limit usually begins at the property line and not at the doorway. So, it could be technically illegal to carry a gun on the other side of the block from a polling place.
This prohibited place list is not exclusive. Some places are so technical that they must be discussed in greater detail.
Can I Take My Gun to School?
For reasons which are too numerous to delve into here, the 2018 Parkland high school mass shooting touched a chord that other similar incidents did not. In Georgia, there are three key words and phrases in the school CCW prohibition: school bus, school property, and school function.
School buses are school buses. In this context, this designation does not include charter buses which carry school-age passengers, even if it for school-related purposes. CCW licensees who pick their kids up at bus stops must keep their firearms locked away in their cars.
Much like places of worship, school property can be hard to identify. Not all schools look like schools. Additionally, if school is not in session or there are no children present, the CCW licensee prohibition makes little sense. Additionally, school safety zones usually begin well beyond the school’s property line. Those “School Zone – No Guns” signs are very tiny and easy to miss. Furthermore, they are not everywhere.
School functions include dances and athletic contests in non-school venues. But this definition is limited to primary or secondary school students. The other aforementioned limitations may also apply to postsecondary schools, like colleges, universities, and technical schools.
Does a “No Guns” Sign Have a Legal Effect in Cobb County?
In some states, such as Illinois, owners can arbitrarily designate property as gun-free zones. CCW licensees who carry guns at these places are subject to arrest. But in Georgia, these signs have no legal effect, even if they look official and cite legal provisions.
Nevertheless, a store with a “no guns” sign illustrates one of those compromises we mentioned above. Even though the CCW licensee has the right to carry a gun, it’s best to respect the property owner’s preference and avoid the establishment. Besides, if you carry a gun inside and cause a scene, the owners could call the police, and they could press separate charges against you.
On a similar note, it’s usually legal to carry a licensed firearm to a restaurant that serves alcohol. But, it’s generally illegal to possess a licensed gun in the bar area. Georgia law defines a “bar,” which is a prohibited place, as “an establishment that is devoted to the serving of alcoholic beverages for consumption by guests on the premises and in which the serving of food is only incidental to the consumption of those beverages.” So, a liquor store is not a prohibited place in Georgia.
Can I Take My Licensed Gun on a Camping Trip?
Generally, yes. In Georgia, CCW licensees may take guns to state or national parks, recreation areas, rest areas, and other developed public outdoor places. It’s also generally legal to have a licensed handgun in an RV, camper, or other such vehicle, even if the vehicle is on the road.
Can I Take My Gun to a Parking Lot or Storage Facility?
This question comes up a lot, especially the parking lot portion. When many CCW licensees pull up to a prohibited place, they leave their guns in their vehicles.
Preliminarily, it is illegal for any public or private employer in Georgia to search a locked vehicle on a parking lot. There are a few exceptions, but they are very limited. Furthermore, it’s illegal for these entities to make leaving licensed weapons in a car a condition of employment.
In general, the prohibited places mentioned above do not include the parking lot or “any area used for parking on a temporary basis.” So, you need not lock the firearm in a separate box, empty the ammunition, or take any similar precautions.
Roughly the same principles apply to storage units. It’s generally illegal for anyone to search a locked storage compartment. Even if they did, it is not illegal to have a licensed firearm in that storage facility.
In conclusion, Georgia has some of the broadest CCW laws in the country. They may be second only to the few permitless carry jurisdictions in the country. However, CCW rights are not absolute. It’s important to know the limitations, and also important to have an experienced lawyer who can give you solid advice and aggressively represent you if necessary.
Like most other states, Georgia’s CCW laws are very intricate. For a confidential gun trust consultation with an experienced firearms’ rights attorney in Marietta, contact NFA Lawyers, LLC. After-hours visits are available.