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. Lee, 16-11-128 no longer exists, and 16-11-126 is completely different. Your point is still correct.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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