Gun licensing: Wordcloud circle with GUN CONTROL in center and related word forming the circle in black text on gray
Illustration: dizain/Shutterstock

ATLANTA – Legislation has been filed that aims to allow people to carry a weapon without a license, as long as the person is eligible to obtain a weapon license.

If adopted, HB 110 would prevent law enforcement from checking any individual’s record before getting a license: instead they would only be charged if they had a previous record.

This proposal, assigned to the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, has six co-sponsors along with the author, Rep. Heath Clark, R-Warner Robbins. They are Reps. Steve Tarvin, R-Chickamauga; Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville; Joseph Gullett, R-Dallas; Danny Mathis, R-Cochran and Mike Glanton, D-Jonesboro.

 “The initial sponsor [Clark] of the bill asked me if I would be in support of it and once he explained it to me, the purpose of the bill, I had no issue with it,” said Glanton, the only Democrat sponsor.

“Here’s my take: this bill basically says [if] you are otherwise eligible to have a license for a weapon then you don’t need a license for a weapon.”

Glanton says many of his Democratic colleagues will not agree on his stance but offers to keep the “main thing, the main thing,” referring to why a license isn’t necessary for people other than law enforcement.

Getting a license now

Georgia.gov says that if an individual wants to apply for a “Weapons Carry License (WCL), also called a firearms license, [it] will [allow the individual] to legally carry a concealed firearm in Georgia.” It also says that the eligible person does not need a WCL in order to actually purchase a firearm, “only to carry one in certain situations.”

“The only reason you have to have a license, in my opinion, is for revenue generating purposes, said Glanton. “Otherwise, why do you need a license?,

 “The only people that I believe that need to have a license [are] those that are required to have a certification or training i.e., law enforcement.”

According to GunsToCarry.com, “Open carry is legal in Georgia if you have a CCW [Concealed Carry Weapon] license. The license allows you to carry in any way; open or concealed. If you do not have a CCW license then you are not permitted to openly carry in Georgia.”

In terms of the fee for obtaining a Weapons Carry License, it differs with each county in Georgia. If an individual lives in Fulton County and wants to purchase a WCL, they must pay $75, among also getting a fingerprint done for the application process, which is an additional $5. The price is different in Cobb County to obtain a WCL at $78.25, which includes “fingerprinting, criminal background check and mental health records check”  with a $2.50 service fee added on to credit/debit transactions. 

From a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, it found that “three-in-10 U.S. adults say they own a gun, and an additional 36% say that while they don’t own one now, they might be open to owning a gun in the future. A third of adults say they don’t currently own a gun and can’t see themselves ever doing so.” The defining characteristic of owning a gun, as found through this survey, detailed the topic of personal freedom attached with owning a gun.

 “It depends on if we keep the main thing, the main thing,” Glanton said. “If we focus on the question of why [a] license [is] necessary.”

Every six hours in Georgia, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a person is killed with a gun. In households with children, “approximately two-in-10 gun owners store at least one gun in the least safe manner, i.e., loaded and unlocked.”  Leading to an influx in accidental shootings by children: shooting themselves or others. Guns also happen to be the second-leading cause of death for children in the United States under the age of 18.

Gun training not required

In Georgia firearms training is not mandatory upon owning a gun. Meghan Packer, journalist for CBS46, interviewed Mitch O’Neal, the director of operations and training at Stoddard’s Range and Guns, on the importance of firearms training.

“There is no notion if you’ve done all the training you need to do. There [is] always the need and the capacity for greater knowledge and proficiency and that comes through education,” O’Neal said to Packer during an interview in January of 2020.

“Owning a firearm and not training makes as much sense as someone going and buying a car and never having taken any kind of instructional course or concern themselves with the rules of the road.”

Stoddard’s located in Midtown Atlanta and Douglasville happens to be one of the many places in the metro Atlanta area that offers firearm training to everyday citizens.  This includes people of all skill levels to become more aware and educated on what it takes to be in control of a firearm for personal protection and overall basic marksmanship.

“You need a CDL to drive a transfer truck,” Glanton said. “You need a class C license to drive a vehicle, legally. All of these things require you to have some verification of eligibility in order for you to do those things, but a weapons license requires nothing.”

Although, training is not required in order to purchase a firearm in Georgia, there are specific requirements in order to carry a WCL that include: being at least 21 or older (18 or older if individual is in the military and can provide proof of basic training completion), being a resident of Georgia, being a U.S. citizen or legal resident, having no felony or drug convictions, having no disqualifying convictions, as well as, not having been in a mental hospital or drug treatment center within five years or having been committed to a mental hospital against will.

“It requires you to be mentally sane, have no history of violence, not be a felon,” said Glanton.

“So if having a license requires you to have these things and you have these things without having a license, why the license?”

Looking ahead Glanton said he is optimistic on this bill and its chances to move in the Legislature.

 “It depends on if we keep the main thing, the main thing,” he said. “If we focus on the question of why [a] license [is] necessary.”


For the latest from the Fresh Take Georgia newsroom, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.