Shedding light on gun laws in Georgia - CBS46 News

Shedding light on gun laws in Georgia

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Photo: St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office Photo: St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

With Thursday's college shooting in Oregon, social media is exploding with commentary what can be done to stop gun violence.

A man walked into a school and killed nine people and others. Six firearms were recovered at the scene and seven were found at the gunman's home.

This obviously isn't the first mass shooting and will sadly, probably not be the last.

But to solve the problem of gun violence, we must first be aware of what the current gun laws are.

Current Gun Laws

In Georgia, a state permit is not required for the purchase or possession of a shotgun, rifle, or handgun. 

However, you must first go through a background check in order to purchase a gun.

When purchasing your gun from an authorized retailer, all you need is your driver's license. From there, the seller can conduct their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases. [1]

They can also have the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. Georgia only uses this method.

There is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm in the state of Georgia. Federal law allows a dealer to deliver a firearm to a purchaser as soon as a background check is completed.

Since the federal background check requirement was adopted in 1994, over two million prohibited persons have been denied a firearm transfer or permit through the FBI’s background check system.[2]

However, many have fallen through the cracks because of the federal “default proceed” rule, which states those agents only have three business days to conduct and finish their investigation.

After three business days, even if a background check has not been completed, the purchaser can still walk away with a gun. 

Private sales of firearms between individual citizens are legal and do not require background checks. You are allowed to sell your private property to anyone of your choosing, unless the individual is ineligible to own or possess a firearm.

Knowingly selling a firearm to a felon is a felony.

Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a weapon or long gun on his or her property or inside his or her home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid weapons carry license. [3] You may open carry in a vehicle either in plain view or in a glove box.

If you are outside one of these areas, you'll need to apply for a carry permit for concealed or open carry.

Georgia is not a traditional open carry state. However, open carry is legal with a Georgia permit.

In order to obtain a weapons carry license in Georgia, you are required to be photographed, fingerprinted, and must undergo a criminal background investigation by the GBI and FBI.

Upon receipt of the background investigations, if there is nothing to prohibit the issuance of your license, you will be issued one. The background investigations may take as long as a month. The license is valid for five years, unless revoked.

What does the background check look for? [4]

Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase.

The ATF Form 4473, which collects the subject’s name and descriptive data (e.g., date of birth, sex, race, state of residence, country of citizenship), also elicits information that may immediately indicate to a Federal Firearms Licensees the subject is a prohibited person, thereby negating the need to continue the processing of the background check. When an FFL initiates a NICS background check, a name and descriptor search is conducted to identify any matching records in three nationally held databases managed by the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division. The databases searched during the background check process are:

  • Interstate Identification Index (III): The III maintains subject criminal history records. As of December 31, 2013, the III records available to be searched by the NICS during a background check numbered 66,679,543.
  • National Crime Information Center (NCIC): The NCIC contains data on persons who are the subjects of protection orders or active criminal warrants, immigration violators, and others. As of December 31, 2013, the NCIC records available to be searched by the NICS during a background check numbered 5,463,159.
  • NICS Index: The NICS Index, a database created specifically for the NICS, collects and maintains information contributed by local, state, tribal, and federal agencies pertaining to persons prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm pursuant to state and federal law. Typically, the records maintained in the NICS Index are not available via the III or the NCIC. As of December 31, 2013, there were 11,166,690 records in the NICS Index.
  • Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): The relevant databases of the ICE are searched for non-U.S. citizens attempting to receive firearms in the United States. In 2013, the NICS Section and the Point-of-Contact (POC) states (states that have implemented a state-based NICS program) sent 118,183 such queries to the ICE. From February 2002 to December 31, 2013, the ICE conducted over 517,943 queries in support of the NICS.

All but five of states, including Georgia, impose requirements beyond the requirements of federal law.

For more detailed information on background checks, click here

The Constitution

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

That leads to debate on the intention of the Framers of the amendment.

Is it an individual or collective rights issue? 

Under the "individual right theory," the United States Constitution restricts legislative bodies from prohibiting firearm possession. Under the the "collective rights theory," the Second Amendment asserts that citizens do not have an individual right to possess guns and that local, state, and federal legislative bodies therefore possess the authority to regulate firearms without implicating a constitutional right. [5]

The Takeaway

What can be done about gun violence in America? How can the laws be strengthened without infringing on an individual's right to bear arms? 

Some might argue that there should be a waiting period or tougher background checks, specifically targeting mental illness. 

Others argue that guns should be outlawed altogether. 

If guns are outlawed, would a determined individual find another way to kill someone? 

The answer is, there is no easy answer. Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

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