Open and Concealed Carry Allowed with GWL

While in common parlance people often refer to the Georgia Weapons License (GWL), previously the Georgia Firearms License, as a concealed carry permit, this term is a misnomer. Even one of the co-sponsors of the recent Senate Bill 308 that clarified Georgia’s carry laws referred to the GWL as a concealed carry permit in a campaign mailer that turned up in my mailbox yesterday.

The fact remains that nothing in Georgia’s carry laws require that a firearm be carried concealed. The two code sections of relevance here are 16-11-126 O.C.G.A., Carrying a concealed weapon, and 16-11-128 O.C.G.A., Carrying a pistol without a license. The first code section makes it illegal to carry a concealed weapon unless a person has a GWL. The second code section makes it illegal to carry a weapon outside of one’s home and business (see code for full list of exceptions) without a GWL whether the weapon may be carried openly or concealed. Just to make sure that it is clear, the carrying of a weapon outside of those specific exceptions requires a GWL. Carrying openly requires the license, but having the license does not require that a firearm or weapon be concealed.

Nothing in the above should be construed as an argument in favor of openly carrying a weapon. I am simply seeking to clarify the law. The decision to carry openly, concealed, or at all is up to the individual.


  1. Curious to know what you think in terms of the requirement for a GWL, does that imply RAS to ID and view the license if an officer simply observes an Open Carrier going about normal business? Hope that makes sense as I liken it to the requirement to have a drivers license to operate a vehicle, but does that allow an officer to pull people over just to view licenses, which I believe is not allowed.

    1. Since originally writing this piece, Georgia has passed a specific code section prohibiting a person being detained for the sole purpose of investigating whether or not they have a valid carry license.

      This code section is based upon Supreme Court rulings on the matter. The mere fact that a person is armed, without more, is not RAS of criminal activity.

  2. Thanks for the reply, I guess absent that new code section, this was a possible officer interpretation that they could ID? Nice to see the legislature took proactive steps to clarify for all parties involved. Much appreciated!

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