Among the many states that have made it impossible to get a permit is, surprisingly, gun-friendly Georgia.
The state shut down all courthouses fairly early in the pandemic, which also included the probate courts. In Georgia, that’s the issuing authority for Georgia Weapons Carry licenses, which means no new weapons carry licenses are being issued.
Yeah, that’s not good.
To be fair, this is more likely a side effect of the lockdown rather than a goal, unlike some other states I could name, but that doesn’t really matter. It means that many in the state who may have decided they need to carry a firearm, can’t.
Gun rights group GeorgiaCarry.Org has filed a lawsuit to address that.
Monday morning, May 4, 2020, GeorgiaCarry.Org filed our third lawsuit against Governor Brian Kemp and the state of Georgia in the Superior Court of Union County. The case is Elizabeth House & GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc, vs BRIAN KEMP, individually and in his official capacity as Governor of the State of Georgia and Dwain Brackett, individually and in his official capacity as judge of the probate court of Union County in the below violations:1) Violations of the right to keep and bear arms:Article I, Sec. I, Par. VIII of the Georgia Constitution guarantee a right to keep and bear arms. By effectively preventing House from carrying a handgun outside her home, motor vehicle, or place of business, either openly or concealed, Kemp and Brackett are violating the Constitution of the State of Georgia
I’m going to invite you to and read the rest over at their site for more details.
This isn’t the first lawsuit GeorgiaCarry.Org has filed on this issue during the pandemic. They lost a case in April over pretty much this exact same thing. The reasoning?
Monroe had argued during the hearing that the suspension put would-be license applicants between “the proverbial rock and a hard place.” They must have a carry license to exercise their constitutional right to carry a gun, but it’s impossible to get a carry license because probate judges have decided processing the applications is not an essential function, he said.
Jones found that a claim that Carter feared arrest and prosecution under the carry law while the state of emergency is in effect isn’t reasonable, particularly because state law prohibits law enforcement officers from detaining someone solely to determine whether the person has a carry license.
In Georgia, it’s technically illegal for a police officer to demand you present proof of having a Georgia Weapons Carry License. That means you can walk around with a firearm illegally and the police can’t actually tell that so long as you’re not doing anything illegal.
In other words, the judge figured that there’s no reason to fear arrest and prosecution for breaking the law, thus there were no grounds for a lawsuit.
Now, in a way, this could be taken to mean the state has de facto constitutional carry. After all, if people can carry without a permit and not have to fear arrest by law enforcement over it, isn’t that kind of the same thing?
The problem, though, is that it’s still illegal. The judge is arguing that it’s fine to break the law so long as you can’t be arrested for doing so, which just doesn’t strike me as the soundest legal argument a judge could make.
As a resident of Georgia, I sincerely hope this lawsuit gets a better hearing than the previous one. Folks in Georgiadamn sure deserve to be treated like law-abiding citizens wishing to comply with the law by the judicial branch rather than whatever the hell that judge seemed to see them as.