History Of Georgia’s Carry Laws

The Continuing Legacy of Slavery and Racism

1833 Georgia enacts a law that provides, "it shall not be lawful for any free person of colour in this state, to own, use, or carry fire arms of any description whatever …… that the free person of colour, so detected in owning, using, or carrying fire arms, shall receive upon his bare back, thirty-nine lashes, and that the fire arms so found in the possession of said free person of colour, shall be exposed to public sale …." 1
1837 General Assembly bans the sale and possession arms "of offence or defence" such as bowie knives, pistols, dirks, sword canes unless they are "exposed plainly to view". 2

Open Carry Ok   Issuing Authority  
Concealed Carry Prohibited May or Shall Issue  
Car Carry   Fee  
Public Gathering   Term  

 

1848 The Georgia Supreme Court rules that "Free persons of color have never been recognized here as citizens; they are not entitled to bear arms . . ." Cooper and Worsham v. Savannah 3 
1868 to 1870 In 1868, the white members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate expelled the 32 black members on the grounds that the state constitution did not recognize the right of black citizens to hold office. 4 5  Following the expulsion, several hundred Blacks and Republicans marched 30 miles from Albany, Georgia to Camilla Georgia for a political rally in support of the removed black Legislators and presidential candidate Ulysses Grant.6 7  Many of the Blacks were armed with walking sticks, shotguns and other various firearms. 8 9

As the procession approached Camilla, the Mitchell County Sheriff, Mumford S. Poore rode out to meet the marchers and tell them not to enter the town with firearms.10 11  After his admonishment, the Sheriff returned Camilla to organize an ambush of the marchers. 12  When the marchers arrived at the courthouse square in Camilla, the white residents opened fire. The marchers bravely returned fire before retreating from the scene into the surrounding woods. 13  Of the marchers, at least nine were killed and nearly thirty wounded. 14  Six whites were reported slightly wounded. 15

In his report to Georgia Governor Bullock, General George Gordon Meade assigned blame for the massacre on the marchers’ refusal to obey the sheriff’s orders not to bring arms into town.16 17  Two years later in 1870, the General Assembly prohibited the possession of guns at "public gatherings". 18

The 1870 law says "no person in said State of Georgia be permitted or allowed to carry about his or her person any dirk, bowieknife, pistol or revolver, or any kind of deadly weapon, to any court of justice, or any election ground or precinct, or any place of public worship, or any other public gathering in this State, except militia muster-grounds." 19

Open Carry Ok   Issuing Authority  
Concealed Carry Prohibited May or Shall Issue  
Car Carry   Fee  
Public Gathering Prohibited Term  

 

1906 to 1911 In 1906, Clark Howell and Hoke Smith battled for the Democrat nomination for Governor. The candidates spent much of the time debating how best to disenfranchise black men, spreading fear about "Negro rule", and claiming to be the most ardent white supremacist. After the election, the newspapers published 4 stories in rapid succession about attacks on white women by black men and other stories about an epidemic of black crime. 20

On the afternoon of Saturday, September 22 1906, thousands of white men and boys, agitated by the continuing flow of newspaper stories about black on white crime, gathered in downtown Atlanta. After midnight and for two more days, the mob attacked black-owned businesses, blacks riding on trolley cars, and black neighborhoods. Once the Blacks learned of the riot, they secretly armed themselves and then effectively defended their homes and families from the invading mob, while the police protected white neighborhoods and property. 21

In the years following the riot, white voters and the all white General Assembly systematically disenfranchised and then disarmed blacks in Georgia. In 1910, the General Assembly imposed licensing requirements with the intent to disarm blacks by using the same seemingly non-discriminatory manner that successfully disenfranchised Blacks two years earlier. To possess a firearm a license issued by the Ordinary (now know as probate judge) must be applied for and granted. Applicants had to be: a) at least eighteen years old or over b) give a bond payable to the Governor of the State in the sum of one hundred dollars, AND c) a fee of fifty cents.22  $100 in 1910 is equivalent to over $2000 in 2007 dollars.23   In the unlikely event a black man could post the bond, the Ordinary, who was always white, since blacks could not hold office, could be counted on to deny the application. Judicial Immunity applicable to the Ordinary meant that Blacks were unable to challenge the license denials.

To further the illusion that this law was not discriminatory against blacks, the Georgia Supreme Court decided Strickland v. State. The Court ruled the 1910 law was Constitutional because the law was within the purview of the police powers of the state.24  At this time, the police were all white and often members of the KKK who could be counted on not to enforce the law against white people.

Open Carry Ok with License   Issuing Authority County Ordinary
Concealed Carry Prohibited May or Shall Issue May
Car Carry   Fee $.50 plus $100 Bond
Public Gathering Prohibited Term 3 years

25

1968 The entire criminal code was re-written.

Open Carry Ok with License   Issuing Authority County Ordinary
Concealed Carry Prohibited May or Shall Issue May
Car Carry Ok with License Fee $3 plus $300 Bond
Public Gathering Prohibited Term 3 years

26

1976 Significant re-write of the law. This version is basis for existing law that will be modified over time. This version has the enhanced definition of Public Gathering with the "not limited to" and "alcohol beverages" language.

Open Carry Ok with License   Issuing Authority Probate Court
Concealed Carry Ok with License May or Shall Issue Shall
Car Carry Fully exposed/glove box Fee $15
Public Gathering Prohibited Term 3 years

Fingerprint requirement added. Good moral character provision in the law. 27

1983 Fingerprints now sent to FBI and we are required to sign a waiver for them to check hospitalization records. Temporary license added and term changed to 5 years.

Open Carry Ok with License   Issuing Authority Probate Court
Concealed Carry Ok with License May or Shall Issue Shall
Car Carry Fully exposed/glove box Fee $15
Public Gathering Prohibited Term 5 years

 

1996 Added reciprocity and requirements for fingerprint on License. A licensee is now allowed to have loaded firearms anywhere within vehicle. 28

Open Carry Ok with License   Issuing Authority Probate Court
Concealed Carry Ok with License May or Shall Issue Shall
Car Carry Fully exposed/glove box or anywhere with a License Fee $15
Public Gathering Prohibited Term 5 years

 

2002 "A person commits the offense of bus or rail vehicle hijacking when he or she …. Boards or attempts to board an aircraft, bus, or rail vehicle with any …. firearm….. or knife or other device designed or modified for the purpose of offense or defense concealed on or about his or her person or would be accessible to such person while on …." 29
2006 SB396 Stand Your Ground Law. Mirrors a law passed in Florida, ensuring that anyone who is attacked while behaving lawfully would have the right to “stand their ground” and defend himself or herself. The law authorizes deadly force if the attack could reasonably be considered life-threatening. If defending yourself as the law states, you are covered by both criminal and civil liability immunity.30

HB1032 was passed to comply with National Instant Check System exemption. It increased the hurdles for Licensees by requiring full background checks on renewals and added GCIC check on initial and renewal applications. The result for the few counties that had digital fingerprint machines was a shorter license application turnaround time. For the majority of counties that used ink there was a longer turnaround times than the law allowed.31

2008 HB89 passes:
  • Addresses abuses of licensing process by Probate Judges (shortened timeline and imposed liability for failure to follow proper proceedures)
  • Repeals prohibition of carrying on public transportation, in restaurants that serve alcohol, in parks, historic sites, and Wildlife Management Areas.
  • Repeals limitations on where Georgians can store their firearm in their cars
Open Carry Ok with License   Issuing Authority Probate Court
Concealed Carry Ok with License May or Shall Issue Shall
Car Carry Anywhere in car Fee $15
Public Gathering Prohibited Term 5 years

32

Michael Menkus is presently a pricing analyst within the telecommunications industry. He is a graduate of Colorado School of Mines with a BS in Geophysical Engineering and Emory University with an MBA. He is a licensed Georgia Professional Engineer. His work experience includes oil exploration, environmental cleanup and risk assessment, and telecommunications network design and management. Michael competes in USPSA pistol competitions and is a certified USPSA Range Officer.

To contact the Author or for questions/comments about this article, please contact info@georgiacarry.org

References

1  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO, ACTS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, PASSED IN MILLEDGEVILLE, AT AN ANNUAL SESSION IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER, 1833., PERSONS OF COLOUR, 1833 Vol. 1 — Page: 226, Sequential Number: 101, section 7

2  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO, ACTS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, PASSED IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER, 1837.
DEADLY WEAPONS. 1837 Vol. 1 — Page: 90, Sequential Number: 074

3  Guncite, Second Amendment Law Library, State Court Decisions, Cooper and Warsham v. Savannah, 4 Ga. 68, 72 (1848), http://www.guncite.com/court/state/4ga68.html

4  Morgan, Jeanette, Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868, Historical Note, Digital Library of Georgia http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/camilla/camilla-history.php

5  Grant, Donald, The Way It Was In The South – The Black Experience In Georgia, Carol Publishing Group, page 113-114

6  Conway, Alan, Reconstruction of the South, University of Minnesota Press, 1966, page169

7  Grant, Donald, The Way It Was In The South – The Black Experience In Georgia, Carol Publishing Group, page 117

8  Conway, Alan, Reconstruction of the South, University of Minnesota Press, 1966, page168

9  Morgan, Jeanette, Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868, Historical Note, Digital Library of Georgia http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/camilla/camilla-history.php

10  Morgan, Jeanette, Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868, Historical Note, Digital Library of Georgia http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/camilla/camilla-history.php

11  Conway, Alan, Reconstruction of the South, University of Minnesota Press, 1966, page168

12  Morgan, Jeanette, Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868, Historical Note, Digital Library of Georgia http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/camilla/camilla-history.php

13  Morgan, Jeanette, Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868, Historical Note, Digital Library of Georgia http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/camilla/camilla-history.php

14  Digital Library of Georgia > Civil Unrest in Camilla, Georgia, 1868, http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/camilla/camilla-history.php The Digital Library of Georgia, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, GA 30602

15  Conway, Alan, Reconstruction of the South, University of Minnesota Press, 1966, page168

16  Conway, Alan, Reconstruction of the South, University of Minnesota Press, 1966, page168

17  Meade, George Gordon, Letter to Governor Bullock, Digital Library of Georgia, 1868, Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872, [Headquarters, Department of the South, Atlanta, Georgia] to Governor [Rufus B. Bullock], Atlanta, Georgia, [1868 Oct. 2]

18  ACTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, PASSED IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, AT THE SESSION OF 1870, http://neptune3.galib.uga.edu/ssp/cgi-bin/legis-idx.pl?sessionid=43a6fde3-1180588271-9600&type=law&byte=41616740

19  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO,ACTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, PASSED IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, AT THE SESSION OF 1870. http://neptune3.galib.uga.edu/ssp/cgi-bin/legis-idx.pl?sessionid=43a6fde3-1220933779-8289&type=law&byte=41616740

20  Grant, Donald, The Way It Was In The South – The Black Experience In Georgia, Carol Publishing Group, page 202-211

21  Grant, Donald, The Way It Was In The South – The Black Experience In Georgia, Carol Publishing Group, page 202-211

22  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO, ACTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA. 1910 Part I.–PUBLIC LAWS.
TITLE VI. MISCELLANEOUS. 1910 Vol. 1 — Page: 134 Sequential Number: 077

23  Halfhill, Tom, Tom’s Inflation Calculator, http://www.halfhill.com/inflation.html

24  Guncite, Second Amendment Law Library, State Court Decisions, Strickland v. State, 137 Ga. 1, 72 S.E. 260 (1911). http://www.guncite.com/court/state/72se260.html

25  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO, ACTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA. 1910 Part I.–PUBLIC LAWS.
TITLE VI. MISCELLANEOUS. 1910 Vol. 1 — Page: 134 Sequential Number: 077

26  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia,GALILEO ACTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA 1968 http://neptune3.galib.uga.edu/ssp/cgi-bin/legis-idx.pl?sessionid=43a6fde3-1220933779-8289&type=law&byte=297512266

27  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO, ACTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA 1976 http://neptune3.galib.uga.edu/ssp/cgi-bin/legis-idx.pl?sessionid=43a6fde3-1220933779-8289&type=law&byte=367009471

28  Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO, ACTS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA 1996 http://neptune3.galib.uga.edu/ssp/cgi-bin/legis-idx.pl?sessionid=43a6fde3-1220933779-8289&type=law&byte=571752178

29  Georgia General Assembly, 02 SB330/AP, Senate Bill 330,
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2001_02/fulltext/sb330.htm

30  Georgia General Assembly, 06 SB396/AP, Senate Bill 396,
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2005_06/versions/sb396_AP_10.htm

31  Georgia General Assembly, 06 HB1032/AP, House Bill 1032,
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2005_06/versions/hb1032_HB_1032_AP_8.htm

32  Georgia General Assembly, 08 HB89/AP, House Bill 89,
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2007_08/versions/hb89_HB_89_AP_14.htm

 

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