The Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition have filed a federal lawsuit against Cherokee County, Georgia and Probate Court Judge Keith Wood over the decision to not accept concealed carry applications while the coronavirus pandemic is taking place. The suit was filed on behalf of Lisa Walters, whose husband Mark Walters might be familiar to readers as the host of Armed American Radio.
Unlike many states, even open carry in Georgia requires a “weapons license,” which means that if license applications aren’t being processed or even accepted, there’s no way for individuals like Walters to be able to legally bear arms for self-defense during the pandemic. If someone is found to be carrying a firearm without a license, they’ll not only likely face charges, but if convicted they’re ineligible to receive a license for at least five years.
According to the lawsuit, Judge Wood announced back on March 14th that his office would not accept any new carry license applications until May 13th, allegedly based on comments by the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court declaring a statewide judicial emergency. That declaration, however, is only advisory in nature, and doesn’t mention anything about suspending applications for a Georgia Weapons license.
Nevertheless, Defendant Judge Wood’s CPO claims the processing of carry licenses is a “NON-ESSENTIAL” matter, and declares that such applications “WILL NOT be accepted during the period covered by the judicial emergency.
Because of the State of Georgia’s general ban against the carrying of loaded, operable handguns outside the home or vehicles… from the moment the Cherokee County Defendants’ CPO order issued, law-abiding citizens not prohibited from possessing firearms and, but for the Cherokee County Defendants’ GWL program closure, otherwise entirely eligible to obtain a GWL—like and including Plaintiff Walters and all similarly situated individuals—have been and continue to be denied any chance to lawfully carry such a weapon in public, anywhere outside the limited confines of their homes, cars, and workplaces, for self defense or for any other lawful purposes.
This attorneys for SAF and FPC argue that this prohibition, temporary though it might be, nevertheless is an infringement on Lisa Walters’ right to bear arms in self-defense, as well as a violation of her 14th Amendment right to due process under the law.
Interestingly, the lawsuit doesn’t just challenge Judge Wood’s decision not to accept carry applications, but it also challenges the notion that Georgia residents need to possess a weapons license in order to bear arms in the first place. Even if the judge in this case doesn’t want to address the larger issue of Georgia’s carry laws, they could still rule specifically on the issue of the suspension of license applications. I suspect the judge will err on the side of a narrow ruling, but we’ll see what happens when the judge issues their opinion on the request for a preliminary injunction that would allow for the resumption of GWL applications.