Legislative attempts to codify constitutional carry — permitless carry of a firearm — in Georgia have been historically unsuccessful.
However, under new legislation titled the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act of 2021, lawmakers are proposing that “lawful weapons carriers” would not need a license to carry a firearm and would have the same rights to carry as any licensed gun owner in the state.
The author of House Bill 2, Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, told The Times that the premise of the bill is to remove open and concealed carry restrictions for gun-owning “law-abiding citizens.”
“Guns are not inherently evil, they are not an evil object, the person possessing them (can be) evil,” Dunahoo said. “Therefore, we always focus on the person who’s handling the gun.”
The bill defines a “lawful weapons carrier” as a person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a weapon or long gun or is licensed to carry.
Georgia Weapons License holders can open-carry or concealed-carry any legal firearm in any location not deemed off-limits by state law.
While recent legislation would repeal sections of state law, it does impose restrictions on where a person can carry a firearm.
Concealed or not, legislation would still not allow firearms to be carried in police stations, day care centers, preschools and polling locations.
Additionally, the bill would remove restrictions on gun owners without licenses to carry in state parks, memorials and historic sites.
Georgia code prohibits the possession and use of firearms in recreational areas including parks, historic sites and memorials for those without licensure.
To obtain an open or concealed carry permit, Georgia gun owners must be 21 years old, have no felony or drug conviction nor have been forcibly committed to a mental institution for five years.
Included in the legislation’s definition of a handgun, the bill does not allow a gun that discharges a single shot at “0.46 centimeter or less in diameter” and stipulates that the firearm’s barrel length cannot exceed 12 inches, not including any revolving, detachable or magazine breech.
Dunahoo said that under the stipulations in the bill, a long rifle would be permissible.
Even if the bill passes, Dunahoo encourages “law-abiding” Georgia gun owners to obtain a license in order to travel to states with reciprocal laws.
“Even though (HB 2) would give law-abiding citizens the right to carry a gun, a long rifle in some of these areas, we encourage them to still get licensed,” said Dunahoo.
Dunahoo acknowledged that any legislation regarding firearm possession and use will be controversial.
“Any bill of this type will draw controversy from both sides of the aisle, some for it and some against it,” he said. “The thing we have to remember is ‘law-abiding citizen.’ A gun has never killed anyone by just laying on the table.”
The bill has been through two readings in the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee and is awaiting a hearing.
Other bills in the House addressing gun restrictions include House Bill 110, which would allow any person eligible for a license to carry a weapon provided they have not had their license revoked within the last three years.