Georgia – -(AmmoLand.com)- While all of us follow federal recommendations and hunker down in our abodes, the usual suspects are taking advantage of the national health emergency to strip the second amendment rights of citizens. By usual suspects, I mean the likes of Cuomo in NY, Murphy in NJ, among others who must be sued into compliance for blatantly violating the rights of their citizens by shutting down permitting processes, fingerprinting, and gun shops, for example.
But, never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would see something similar here in the otherwise free state of Georgia.
Now, there is a universe of difference between the tyrants I just named above and Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp. Heck, Kemp ran one of the most pro-gun campaigns, possibly in the history of any state gubernatorial elections in modern-day America.
You may recall his advertisements that garnered national attention when he was accused by the do-goody leftists of threatening his daughters' boyfriend with a shotgun while having a little chat with him with his shotgun resting on his lap. I mention that to remind you that Kemp is pro-rights, and he, unlike the governors discussed above, has not taken any action to infringe on gun rights here in the Peach State. He specifically named gun shops and related businesses as “essential” in his executive action.
So what's the beef, Walters?
The beef is two-fold. First, OCGA 16-11-126 states the following:
16 – 11 – 126 (h) (1) No person shall carry a weapon without a valid weapons carry license unless he or she meets one of the exceptions to having such license as provided in subsections (a) through (g) of this Code section.
That statement is pretty clear. If you want to carry a weapon, open or concealed in GA, you must possess a Weapons Carry License. Obtaining a permit in Georgia is simple as far as other states are concerned. All one has to do is march themselves to their respective County Probate Court clerk's office and pay the new licensing fee or the renewal fee, have fingerprints and picture taken, fill out one form. As long as you are a law-abiding citizen, your Georgia Weapons License shows up in your mailbox, usually within two weeks. No training requirements or any other BS.
Second, On March 14, Chief Justice of the Georgia state Supreme Court, Harold Melton, declared a state of judicial emergency. Subsequent to that on March, 17th, Georgia Carry made the following statement in a lengthy email to members:
March 17, 2020, GeorgiaCarry.Org was informed that the Probate Courts across the state of Georgia would temporarily suspend acceptance of applications for Georgia Weapons Carry Licenses and the renewal of Georgia Weapons Carry Licenses pursuant to an order of the Supreme Court of GA declaring a Judicial Emergency.
So now you get the idea. Georgia requires its law-abiding citizens to have a Weapons Carry License, which is issued by your respective county probate court. As of March 14, 2020, the probate courts have suspended most operations, including weapons licensing. That emergency order has now been extended by Governor Kemp to at least May 13, 2020, as of Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Because Georgia does not provide for the option of openly carrying a sidearm without that weapons carry license, well pardner, you're just plain old s**t out of luck.
The Governor has been asked by Georgia Carry to suspend the licensing and renewal requirements during the health emergency. He has responded that his office is looking into the legality of such a move but has not been heard from since. Chief Justice Melton has also been asked to provide guidance and urge Governor Kemp to act, but his office remains silent with no indication he will respond to the request.
So, those who find themselves without a permit to carry that want to exercise our rights during this challenging time, can't and those who have been licensed for decades can not renew a license that may be expiring during this time frame. Yet again, we find out just how fragile our rights are under these extreme circumstances. While no one individual is intentionally swiping our rights as in other states, the actions taken by the judge and Governor point out the flaws in the licensing system as a whole.
Fortunately, my license isn't up for renewal until next March. Still, I will tell you this: If my license expired during this period, and I was unable to renew, I would continue to carry my firearm as I always have.
I don't consider that breaking the law taking into account that through no fault of my own, the government has made it impossible for me to follow that law. I also find it hard to believe that any law enforcement officer would arrest me for an expired permit that I am unable to renew. I am not naive and am aware that if I were arrested, here in Georgia, that first offense is a misdemeanor, and I most certainly wouldn't mind being the test case. It's worth that risk. That is also my advice to AAR listeners in Georgia who may find themselves in this very predicament.
The bottom line? The permitting scheme has outlived its usefulness. It's time to move on. I shouldn't need a stinking permit to carry a gun in the first place, and if this whole debacle doesn't scream why constitutional carry should be the law of the land, nothing does.
About Mark Walters
Mark Walters is the host of two nationally syndicated radio broadcasts, Armed American Radio and Armed American Radio's Daily Defense with Mark Walters. He is the Second Amendment Foundations 2015 Gun Rights Defender of the Year award recipient and co-author of several books, Grilling While Armed, Lessons from Armed America with Kathy Jackson and Lessons from UnArmed America with Rob Pincus. Follow Mark and support Pro-Gun media.