2020 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 11 - Offenses Against Public Order and Safety
Article 4 - Dangerous Instrumentalities and Practices
Part 3 - Carrying and Possession of Firearms
§ 16-11-127. Carrying Weapons in Unauthorized Locations

Universal Citation: GA Code § 16-11-127 (2020)
  1. As used in this Code section, the term:
    1. "Courthouse" means a building occupied by judicial courts and containing rooms in which judicial proceedings are held.
    2. "Government building" means:
      1. The building in which a government entity is housed;
      2. The building where a government entity meets in its official capacity; provided, however, that if such building is not a publicly owned building, such building shall be considered a government building for the purposes of this Code section only during the time such government entity is meeting at such building; or
      3. The portion of any building that is not a publicly owned building that is occupied by a government entity.
    3. "Government entity" means an office, agency, authority, department, commission, board, body, division, instrumentality, or institution of the state or any county, municipal corporation, consolidated government, or local board of education within this state.
    4. "Parking facility" means real property owned or leased by a government entity, courthouse, jail, prison, or place of worship that has been designated by such government entity, courthouse, jail, prison, or place of worship for the parking of motor vehicles at a government building or at such courthouse, jail, prison, or place of worship.
  2. Except as provided in Code Section 16-11-127.1 and subsection (d) or (e) of this Code section,a person shall be guilty of carrying a weapon or long gun in an unauthorized location and punished as for a misdemeanor when he or she carries a weapon or long gun while:
    1. In a government building as a nonlicense holder;
    2. In a courthouse;
    3. In a jail or prison;
    4. In a place of worship, unless the governing body or authority of the place of worship permits the carrying of weapons or long guns by license holders;
    5. In a state mental health facility as defined in Code Section 37-1-1 which admits individuals on an involuntary basis for treatment of mental illness, developmental disability, or addictive disease; provided, however, that carrying a weapon or long gun in such location in a manner in compliance with paragraph (3) of subsection (d) of this Code section shall not constitute a violation of this subsection;
    6. On the premises of a nuclear power facility, except as provided in Code Section 16-11-127.2, and the punishment provisions of Code Section 16-11-127.2 shall supersede the punishment provisions of this Code section; or
    7. Within 150 feet of any polling place when elections are being conducted and such polling place is being used as a polling place as provided for in paragraph (27) of Code Section 21-2-2, except as provided in subsection (i) of Code Section 21-2-413.
  3. A license holder or person recognized under subsection (e) of Code Section 16-11-126 shall be authorized to carry a weapon as provided in Code Section 16-11-135 and in every location in this state not listed in subsection (b) or prohibited by subsection (e) of this Code section; provided, however, that private property owners or persons in legal control of private property through a lease, rental agreement, licensing agreement, contract, or any other agreement to control access to such private property shall have the right to exclude or eject a person who is in possession of a weapon or long gun on their private property in accordance with paragraph (3) of subsection (b) of Code Section 16-7-21, except as provided in Code Section 16-11-135. A violation of subsection (b) of this Code section shall not create or give rise to a civil action for damages.
  4. Subsection (b) of this Code section shall not apply:
    1. To the use of weapons or long guns as exhibits in a legal proceeding, provided such weapons or long guns are secured and handled as directed by the personnel providing courtroom security or the judge hearing the case;
    2. To a license holder who approaches security or management personnel upon arrival at a location described in subsection (b) of this Code section and notifies such security or management personnel of the presence of the weapon or long gun and explicitly follows the security or management personnel's direction for removing, securing, storing, or temporarily surrendering such weapon or long gun; and
    3. To a weapon or long gun possessed by a license holder which is under the possessor's control in a motor vehicle or is in a locked compartment of a motor vehicle or one which is in a locked container in or a locked firearms rack which is on a motor vehicle and such vehicle is parked in a parking facility.
    1. A license holder shall be authorized to carry a weapon in a government building when the government building is open for business and where ingress into such building is not restricted or screened by security personnel. A license holder who enters or attempts to enter a government building carrying a weapon where ingress is restricted or screened by security personnel shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if at least one member of such security personnel is certified as a peace officer pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 35; provided, however, that a license holder who immediately exits such building or immediately leaves such location upon notification of his or her failure to clear security due to the carrying of a weapon shall not be guilty of violating this subsection or paragraph (1) of subsection (b) of this Code section. A person who is not a license holder and who attempts to enter a government building carrying a weapon shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
    2. Any license holder who violates subsection (b) of this Code section in a place of worship shall not be arrested but shall be fined not more than $100.00. Any person who is not a license holder who violates subsection (b) of this Code section in a place of worship shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.
  5. Nothing in this Code section shall in any way operate or be construed to affect, repeal, or limit the exemptions provided for under Code Section 16-11-130.

(Ga. L. 1870, p. 421, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1878-79, p. 64, § 1; Code 1882, § 4528; Penal Code 1895, § 342; Ga. L. 1909, p. 90, § 1; Penal Code 1910, § 348; Code 1933, § 26-5102; Code 1933, § 26-2902, enacted by Ga. L. 1968, p. 1249, § 1; Ga. L. 1976, p. 1430, § 2; Ga. L. 1986, p. 673, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 358, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1315, § 1; Ga. L. 1996, p. 748, § 11; Ga. L. 1997, p. 514, § 1; Ga. L. 2003, p. 423, § 1; Ga. L. 2008, p. 1199, § 4/HB 89; Ga. L. 2010, p. 963, § 1-3/SB 308; Ga. L. 2014, p. 432, § 2-5/HB 826; Ga. L. 2014, p. 599, § 1-5/HB 60; Ga. L. 2015, p. 805, § 3/HB 492.)

Cross references.

- Exemption from section for private detectives and private security agents who hold firearms permits issued by Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies, § 43-38-10.

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 1992, p. 1315, § 3, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "All schools shall post in public view the provisions as contained in Code Section 16-11-127.1 (a) and (b)."

Ga. L. 2008, p. 1199, § 1/HB 89, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Business Security and Employee Privacy Act.' "

Ga. L. 2010, p. 963, § 3-1/SB 308, not codified by the General Assembly, provides, in part, that the amendment of this Code section shall apply to all offenses committed on and after June 4, 2010, and shall not affect any prosecutions for acts occurring before June 4, 2010, and shall not act as an abatement of any such prosecution.

Ga. L. 2014, p. 599, § 1-1/HB 60, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Safe Carry Protection Act.'"

Law reviews.

- For article surveying developments in Georgia constitutional law from mid-1980 through mid-1981, see 33 Mercer L. Rev. 51 (1981). For article, "Crimes and Offenses," see 27 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 131 (2011). For article on the 2014 amendment of this Code section, see 31 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 47 (2014). For annual survey on real property law, see 70 Mercer L. Rev. 209 (2018). For note, "Education Under Fire?: An Analysis of Campus Carry and University Autonomy in Georgia," see 54 Ga. L. Rev. 387 (2019).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Former Code 1933, § 26-2902 (see now O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127) was not unconstitutionally vague. Byrdsong v. State, 245 Ga. 336, 265 S.E.2d 15 (1980); Jordan v. State, 166 Ga. App. 417, 304 S.E.2d 522 (1983).

There was no conflict between former Code 1933, §§ 26-2902 and 26-2904 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 16-11-127 and16-11-129). Byrdsong v. State, 245 Ga. 336, 265 S.E.2d 15 (1980).

Statutory construction of "notwithstanding" under former provisions of subsection (e) of this section.

- In a case in which a gun rights organization and a Georgia state representative sought declaratory and injunctive relief because they asserted that Georgia House Bill (HB) 89 permitted any person who possessed a valid Georgia firearms license to carry a firearm in the non-sterile areas of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, they argued unsuccessfully that the "notwithstanding" language of HB 89, codified at O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127, which authorized Georgia firearms license (GFL) holders to carry firearms in public transportation notwithstanding O.C.G.A. §§ 16-12-122 through16-12-127, which is the Transportation Passenger Safety Act (TPSA), would be superfluous unless it was intended to make clear that a GFL holder could carry a firearm in an airport. They misleadingly focused only on O.C.G.A. § 16-12-127, but the "notwithstanding" language in HB 89 referred to all of the TPSA, and O.C.G.A. § 16-12-123(b), another section of the TPSA, prohibited boarding any bus or rail vehicle with a firearm; since public transportation included bus and rail vehicles such as those operated by Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, the "notwithstanding" language was needed to make clear that GFL holders could carry firearms onto such vehicles notwithstanding the TPSA. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. City of Atlanta, 602 F. Supp. 2d 1281 (N.D. Ga. 2008), aff'd, 318 Fed. Appx. 851 (11th Cir. 2009).

Interpretation of private property.

- Supreme Court of Georgia determined that for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(c), property may be considered private only if the holder of the present estate in the property is a private person or entity. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc., 306 Ga. 829, 834 S.E.2d 27 (2019).

If the city, a public entity, was the holder of a present estate under the lease, the leased premises was not private property within the meaning of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(c), thus, the garden would have no right to exclude the carrying of firearms on the leased premises because the garden was not in legal control of private property through a lease; however, since the lease was not in the record on appeal the garden was not entitled to summary judgment. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc., 306 Ga. 829, 834 S.E.2d 27 (2019).

Application of federal law.

- In a case in which a gun rights organization and a Georgia state representative sought declaratory and injunctive relief because they asserted that Georgia House Bill (HB) 89 permitted any person who possessed a valid Georgia firearms license to carry a firearm in the non-sterile areas of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, they argued unsuccessfully that if HB 89, codified as O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127 did not apply to airports, then the exception for carrying firearms into a place prohibited by federal law was superfluous. The federal law exception applied to all of the places listed in HB 89, including parks, historic sites, and recreational and wildlife management areas, as well as public transportation. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. City of Atlanta, 602 F. Supp. 2d 1281 (N.D. Ga. 2008), aff'd, 318 Fed. Appx. 851 (11th Cir. 2009).

Application to airports.

- In a case in which a gun rights organization and a Georgia state representative sought declaratory and injunctive relief because they asserted that Georgia House Bill (HB) 89 permitted any person who possessed a valid Georgia firearms license to carry a firearm in the non-sterile areas of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, giving the terms of the statute their ordinary signification, the public transportation provision of HB 89, as codified at O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127, did not apply to airports. HB 89 did not mention airports, nor did the bill define public transportation, and the ordinary signification of public transportation did not include airports. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. City of Atlanta, 602 F. Supp. 2d 1281 (N.D. Ga. 2008), aff'd, 318 Fed. Appx. 851 (11th Cir. 2009).

That the defendant allegedly committed a separate offense by entering the airport security screening checkpoint while knowingly possessing a weapon did not invalidate the first charged offense for having a weapon in a government building as O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127 criminalized the carrying of a weapon by a nonlicense holder through the airport's doorway while O.C.G.A. § 16-11-130.2 prohibited the defendant from entering the restricted area of the airport with the weapon. Malphurs v. State, 336 Ga. App. 867, 785 S.E.2d 414 (2016).

Application to places of worship.

- When plaintiffs, a gun advocacy group and one of the group's members, and a church and the pastor, sought a declaratory judgment that O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(b)(4), regulating possession of weapons in a place of worship, violated their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, because § 16-11-127(d)(2) only required leaving guns in vehicles or notifying security or management and following directions for securing guns under § 16-11-127(d)(2) and (3), it was not an unmistakable pressure to forego religious precepts or pressure religious conduct to trigger scrutiny under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause and the claim against defendants, the State of Georgia, the Governor, a county, and a county manager failed. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. Georgia, 764 F. Supp. 2d 1306 (M.D. Ga. 2011), aff'd, 687 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. Ga. 2012).

When plaintiffs, a gun advocacy group and one of the group's members, and a church and the pastor, sought a declaratory judgment that O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(b)(4), regulating possession of weapons in a place of worship, violated their Second Amendment right to bear arms, the court noted that the United States Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), held that the Second Amendment protected a right to possess and carry weapons for self defense but did not elaborate on what all the "sensitive" places were to which a regulation could prohibit carrying a weapon, and absent clearer guidance, the safer approach was to assume that possession at a place of worship was within the Second Amendment guarantee and apply intermediate scrutiny, and since prohibiting firearms in a place of worship bore a substantial relationship to the important goal of protecting religious freedom by protecting attendees from the fear or threat of intimidation or armed attack, § 16-11-127(b)(4) passed intermediate scrutiny and the claim against defendants, the State of Georgia, the Governor, a county, and a county manager failed. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. Georgia, 764 F. Supp. 2d 1306 (M.D. Ga. 2011), aff'd, 687 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. Ga. 2012).

That plaintiff gun owners "would like" to carry a gun to be able to act in "self-defense" was a personal preference, motivated by a secular purpose, and there was no First Amendment protection for personal preferences or secular beliefs, thus, a First Amendment Free Exercise claim challenging Georgia's "Carry Law," O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(b), which banned carrying guns in a place of worship, failed. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc v. Georgia, 687 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. 2012).

Holiday barbecue with many people constitutes public gathering within meaning of former Penal Code 1895, § 342 (see now O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127). Wynne v. State, 123 Ga. 566, 51 S.E. 636 (1905).

Parking area on grounds of public gathering.

- Offense of carrying a firearm at a public gathering may occur in a parking area on the grounds of and in close proximity to a public gathering. Hubbard v. State, 210 Ga. App. 141, 435 S.E.2d 709 (1993).

Acquiring deadly weapon after arrival at public gathering is not indictable under former Penal Code 1895, § 342 (see now O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127). Modesette v. State, 115 Ga. 582, 41 S.E. 992 (1902); Culberson v. State, 119 Ga. 805, 47 S.E. 175 (1904).

Leaving public gathering, obtaining deadly weapon and then returning.

- If a person carries a deadly weapon to a place near a public gathering so that it will be accessible, and while gathering is in progress goes to place of deposit and obtains actual possession of weapon and carries it to the gathering, that person is guilty of the offense. Wynne v. State, 123 Ga. 566, 51 S.E. 636 (1905); Farmer v. State, 112 Ga. App. 438, 145 S.E.2d 594 (1965).

Declaratory judgment action on carrying in garden.

- Trial court erred by dismissing the appellants' declaratory judgment action on the basis that it improperly called for the interpretation and application of a criminal statute because they were not seeking an advisory opinion but sought a determination of whether licensed individuals may carry a weapon on the grounds of the garden at issue in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127(c), which was a proper subject for declaratory relief. Georgiacarry.Org, Inc. v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc., 299 Ga. 26, 785 S.E.2d 874 (2016).

Having a license to carry a pistol is no justification under former Penal Code 1910, § 348 (see now O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127). Sockwell v. State, 27 Ga. App. 576, 109 S.E. 531 (1921).

It need not be alleged that accused was not a member of class excepted by former Penal Code 1895, § 342 (see now O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127). Kitchens v. State, 116 Ga. 847, 43 S.E. 256 (1903).

Focus is not on "place" but on "gathering" of people.

- O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127 should apply when people are gathered or will be gathered for a particular function and not when a weapon is carried lawfully to a public place where people may gather. The focus is not on the "place" but on the "gathering" of people. State v. Burns, 200 Ga. App. 16, 406 S.E.2d 547 (1991).

Evidence sufficient for conviction.

- Evidence amply supported the jury's verdict of guilty under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127 since the evidence showed that defendant possessed a loaded weapon, a .22 caliber derringer, on the grounds of an auto auction and that many people were present in the parking lot when the gun was removed from defendant's person. Jordan v. State, 166 Ga. App. 417, 304 S.E.2d 522 (1983).

Defendant was properly convicted of carrying a deadly weapon after the defendant pulled a gun on security personnel at a tavern after security took defendant's keys because of defendant's intoxicated condition, notwithstanding defendant's contention that defendant acted in self-defense. Richardson v. State, 233 Ga. App. 890, 505 S.E.2d 57 (1998).

Cited in Smith v. State, 122 Ga. App. 768, 178 S.E.2d 751 (1970); Harvey v. State, 233 Ga. 41, 209 S.E.2d 587 (1974); Simmons v. State, 246 Ga. 390, 271 S.E.2d 468 (1980); Sizemore Sec. Int'l, Inc. v. Lee, 161 Ga. App. 332, 287 S.E.2d 782 (1982); Jenga v. State, 166 Ga. App. 26, 303 S.E.2d 170 (1983); Johnson v. State, 308 Ga. 141, 839 S.E.2d 521 (2020).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Constables do not possess general police powers, and may carry pistols only if licensed. 1978 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U78-30.

Publicly owned or operated building is one which houses governmental functions, and which is either owned by the government or the government's agency, or is leased with taxpayer money for use by government or one of the government's agencies. 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U76-33.

Carrying pistol or revolver at shopping mall.

- Person who has properly obtained a license to carry a pistol or revolver under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-129 may legally carry a pistol or revolver at a shopping mall without violating O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127. 1984 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U84-37.

Application to carry handgun need not be recorded.

- Former Code 1933, §§ 26-2902 and 26-2904 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 16-11-127 and16-11-129) did not require recording of any portion of an application to carry a handgun. 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U76-33.

There is no restriction against carrying an unloaded shotgun in a vehicle through this state. 1970 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U70-30.

State Board of Education security guard on duty at public facilities.

- Under former Code 1933, § 26-2902 (see now O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127), it was a misdemeanor for an individual to carry a firearm to any public gathering; therefore, a security guard cannot be authorized by the State Board of Education to bear arms while performing security duties at public facilities. 1978 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 78-3.

Application to gathering for particular function, not public place.

- O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127 applies when people are gathered or will gather for a particular function, but does not apply simply because a weapon is otherwise lawfully carried to a public place where people may be present. 1996 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U96-22.

Fingerprinting required.

- Any misdemeanor offenses arising under subsection (b) of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127 are offenses for which those charged are to be fingerprinted. 2010 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 10-6.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 79 Am. Jur. 2d, Weapons and Firearms, § 30.

C.J.S.

- 94 C.J.S., Weapons, § 37 et seq.

ALR.

- Cane as a deadly weapon, 30 A.L.R. 815.

Tear gas gun as dangerous or deadly weapon within statute inhibiting the carrying of dangerous weapons, 92 A.L.R. 1098.

Scope and effect of exception, in statute forbidding carrying of weapons, as to persons on own premises or at place of business, 57 A.L.R.3d 938.

Statutory presumption of possession of weapon by occupants of place or vehicle where it was found, 87 A.L.R.3d 949.

Pocket or clasp knife as deadly or dangerous weapon for purposes of statute aggravating offenses such as assault, robbery, or homicide, 100 A.L.R.3d 287.

Validity of state statute proscribing possession or carrying of knife, 47 A.L.R.4th 651.

Fact that gun was unloaded as affecting criminal responsibility, 68 A.L.R.4th 507.

Fact that gun was broken, dismantled, or inoperable as affecting criminal responsibility under weapons statute, 81 A.L.R.4th 745.

What constitutes actual or constructive possession of unregistered or otherwise prohibited firearm in violation of 26 USCS § 5861, 133 A.L.R. Fed. 347.

Construction and application of United States Supreme Court holdings in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago, Ill., 130 S. Ct. 3020, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) respecting Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, to state or local laws regulating firearms or other weapons, 64 A.L.R.6th 131.

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