MUSCOGEE COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – Gov. Brian Kemp signing the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act into law is regarded as a milestone by Second Amendment activists. With Georgia as the newest addition, half of the country will now be able to carry concealed weapons without a permit. With constitutional carry in place, people in Muscogee County can now save $79 — the cost it takes to get a Weapons Carry License. 

The days of requiring the permit are over; for Georgians looking to protect themselves, this can mean one less hoop to jump through. 

Gov. Kemp said in a tweet: “For law-abiding Georgians, their carry permit is the 2nd Amendment.” 

However, those weapons carry licenses are not going away. In fact, Muscogee County Probate Judge Marc D’Antonio says there’s still value in getting it.

  1. It allows people to purchase weapons without a background check delay because the permit serves as proof they are eligible to purchase. 
  2. It provides for lawful carry in states that recognize Georgia gun licenses.
  3. Your Weapons Carry License provides some additional benefit and protection. For instance, if T.S.A. finds you with a weapon at the airport, those with this permit are allowed to leave and put the weapon away. Those without one are not afforded the privilege and charged with a crime. 

Permits are handled at the county level. Muscogee County is in a unique position due to its proximity to Fort Benning. Fort Benning soldiers can get their Weapons Carry License at the Muscogee County Probate Court. Because soldiers can get deployed or transferred across state lines, having a permit that is recognized across several states holds value. 

In 2021, the probate court processed over 5,400 weapons carry license applications. That number marks a 49% jump from the previous year. Of the $79 cost for a license, some goes towards a background check and the probate court gets the other $30. That means last year the probate court netted over $160,000 from these permits. 

“I do think we’re going to have a decrease in that part of our budget,” D’Antonio said. “But I don’t think it’s going to go from 5,000 to 0. Given the fact that last year was an aberration, I anticipate we’re going to be in the 2 to 3,000 Weapons Carry License requests per year going forward, even under constitutional carry.”

When submitting an application, applicants also go to the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office to get fingerprinted. The fingerprints are sent electronically to the GBI and FBI for a background check. Out of all applications in 2021,  only 3% were rejected. 

“The majority of the people are people with felonies,” D’Antonio said. “Maybe felonies they didn’t remember happened in the 70s or simple battery family violence cases that might be old also.”

When it comes to potential consequences of signing the Constitutional Carry Act into law, D’Antonio says, as with all legislation, he worries about unforeseen consequences. 

“We don’t know what those unintended and unforeseen consequences will be but I’m always worried about changes in the law,” D’Antonio said. “Did people really think through all the scenarios it might create and what incentives it might create? I don’t really know what those will be yet.”

To apply for a weapons carry license, you can fill out an application online.  Once you submit your information electronically, you’ll have to go into the probate court to verify your identity and submit your payment.

Appointments typically take about 15-20 minutes and the court is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Below are the requirements to obtain a Weapons Carry License:

1. Must be a U.S. Citizen or eligible lawful alien. (Additional documentation required to establish alien status).

2. Must be 21 years of age, unless active duty military or have an honorable discharge.

3. Must be a resident of Muscogee County or active duty U.S. Armed Forces and reside in Columbus/Fort Benning.

4. Required documentation:

a.) A copy of Birth Certificate or U.S. Passport AND Driver’s License/State ID showing current Muscogee County address.

b.) Active duty U.S. Armed Forces who have an out of state Driver’s License must also provide a military ID and a current lease or a current utility bill (power, water or gas only) showing Muscogee County/Fort Benning address.

5. Required fee: $79.00 ($78.25 application fee + optional $0.75 charge for stamp and envelope. Alternatively, applicants may bring their own self-addressed stamped envelope and only pay the application fee.)

You can find more information here.