Weapons Charges in Georgia

Learn about Georgia’s gun laws from constitutional carry to prohibited persons and places.

By , Legal Editor
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated February 28, 2023

Georgia became a constitutional carry state in 2022, and many laws that previously required a license for carrying handguns in public have been repealed (eliminated). Unless otherwise prohibited, adults 21 and older may open or conceal carry in most public places without a carry license. However, certain places remain off limits to guns and weapons. Read on for details.

Georgia's Gun Laws: Open and Concealed Carry Without a License

In Georgia, it's legal to carry a "weapon"—a handgun or long knife (with a blade longer than 12 inches)—or a long gun either openly or concealed on your body if you're a "lawful weapons carrier." Lawful weapons carriers do not need a carry license (but may want one for reciprocity reasons).

Who Is a Lawful Weapons Carrier in Georgia?

The law considers any resident or non-resident adult age 21 or older to be a "lawful weapons carrier," as long as they are not prohibited from possessing a handgun or long gun and would be eligible for a carry license. In addition, any person licensed to carry a weapon in another state qualifies as a lawful weapons carrier in Georgia.

To be eligible for a carry license and, thus, qualify as a lawful weapons carrier, a person must be 21 or older (18 or older for certain military members) and have a clean record. This means the person:

  • has no prior felony convictions or pending felony charges
  • has no prior misdemeanor convictions involving drugs, weapons violations, or domestic violence
  • is not a fugitive
  • is not banned from firearm possession under federal law
  • has no history of being hospitalized in an inpatient mental facility or alcohol or drug treatment center in the past five years, and
  • has never been adjudicated mentally incompetent or insane.

Where Is Constitutional Carry Allowed in Georgia?

With the new law, certain places that previously restricted carrying guns to only those with a carry license are now permitted locations for anyone who's a lawful weapons carrier. For example, anyone who is a lawful weapons carrier may carry a gun in a park, historic site, recreation area, or wildlife management area unless restricted by federal law. A lawful weapons carrier can also carry in certain state and local government buildings.

Some laws didn't change with constitutional carry. Lawful weapons carriers can still carry guns when on their own property or in their home, motor vehicle, or place of business or while legally hunting or fishing.

What Are the Penalties for Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon?

A first violation for unlawful carrying of a weapon is a misdemeanor, but subsequent convictions are felonies.

(Ga. Code. § 16-11-126 (2022).)

Georgia's Gun Laws: Carrying Weapons in Unauthorized Locations

Even if you're a lawful weapons carrier, Georgia continues to forbid carrying guns in certain locations. Exceptions apply to certain authorized personnel, such as law enforcement and peace officers engaged in official duties.

Unauthorized Locations for Carrying Weapons

Examples of unauthorized locations include:

  • courthouses, jails, prisons, and restricted government buildings
  • places of worship (unless expressly allowed)
  • state mental health facilities
  • nuclear power facilities, and
  • polling places during elections (including anywhere within 150 feet of a polling place).

    No Weapons in School Zones

    Georgia also prohibits carrying guns, stun guns or Tasers, switchblades, clubs, and other weapons on school property (including school buses) and at school functions, unless the weapon is in a locked container in a vehicle. The ban also applies to vocational schools, colleges, and universities, with a few exceptions—for instance, adult post-secondary students may carry stun guns and Tasers for self-defense.

    Private Property Restrictions

    Owners of private property or those having legal control of a property (such as by a lease agreement) can prohibit the carrying of weapons on their property.

    Penalties for Carrying a Weapon in Unauthorized Locations

    In most circumstances, a person convicted of carrying a weapon in an unauthorized location will face a misdemeanor. Certain violations committed by individuals who are not lawful weapons carriers, however, carry stiffer penalties. For example, the penalty for carrying a weapon in a school safety zone increases from a misdemeanor to a felony when the defendant is not a lawful weapons carrier.

    (Ga. Code §§ 16-11-127, 16-11-127.1, 16-11-130 (2022).)

    Can Felons or Minors Possess Guns in Georgia?

    It's a felony in Georgia to possess a gun or Taser if you've been convicted of a felony (or certain juvenile offenses) unless you've received a pardon that explicitly allows you to have a firearm. The punishment varies, depending on the nature of your previous conviction. (Federal bans may also apply.)

    The state also prohibits minors (younger than 18) from having a handgun, unless they qualify for one of the exceptions, including when they:

    • have parental permission and are on their parents' or grandparents' property
    • are in a safety course or at a shooting range
    • are participating in an organized competition or performance, or
    • are legally hunting or fishing.

    Violations are punished as misdemeanors for first offenses or as felonies for subsequent convictions. Anyone who furnishes a handgun to a minor can be charged with a felony; parents are exempt, but only if they know the child will use the weapon for one of the legal purposes described above.

    (Ga. Code §§ 16-11-101.1, 16-11-131, 16-11-132 (2022).)

    What Weapons Are Illegal in Georgia?

    Georgia bans certain types of operable weapons, including:

    • sawed-off shotguns and rifles
    • guns equipped with silencers
    • machine guns, and
    • dangerous weapons like rocket launchers, mortars, and hand grenades.

    Violations are punishable by five years in prison.

    (Ga. Code §§ 16-11-122, 16-11-123, 16-11-124 (2022).)

    Georgia's Laws on Illegal Use of Weapons

    Various laws in Georgia also address the illegal use of weapons. For instance, if you have a gun (including a stun gun or Taser) or a knife (with a blade that's at least three inches long) while committing or trying to commit certain crimes, you can be charged with a separate felony in addition to the underlying crime. The punishment is stiffer if you were previously convicted of certain other crimes, including any felony involving the use or possession of a gun.

    It's also a misdemeanor in Georgia to:

    • point a loaded or unloaded gun at someone intentionally and without a legal justification
    • fire a gun on someone else's property (without permission) or within 50 yards of a public road or highway, or
    • fire a gun while under the influence of alcohol or certain drugs.

    Generally, self-defense is a justification for these point-or-fire offenses.

    (Ga. Code §§ 16-11-102, 16-11-103, 16-11-104, 16-11-133, 16-11-134 (2022).)

    Getting Legal Help

    If you are charged with a crime related to the possession or use of a weapon, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney can explain how the law applies to your situation, what to expect in the legal proceedings, and how to protect your rights.

    (O.C.G.A. §§ 16-11-102, 16-11-103, 16-11-104, 16-11-122, 16-11-123, 16-11-124, 16-11-126, 16-11-127, 16-11-127.1, 16-11-130, 16-11-133, 16-11-134 (2022).)

    Talk to a Defense attorney
    We've helped 95 clients find attorneys today.
    There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
    Full Name is required
    Email is required
    Please enter a valid Email
    Phone Number is required
    Please enter a valid Phone Number
    Zip Code is required
    Please add a valid Zip Code
    Please enter a valid Case Description
    Description is required

    How It Works

    1. Briefly tell us about your case
    2. Provide your contact information
    3. Choose attorneys to contact you