What does Constitutional Carry mean for law abiding citizens?

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) – A new state law known as Georgia’s Constitutional Carry has a lot of people talking about what will and won’t change when it comes to carrying a handgun.

“We’ve obviously been following it very closely,” said Judge Thomas Lakes, Harris County Probate Court.

No one knows the impact better than he does as the council president of the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia.

Up until Tuesday, the county probate court is where Georgia residents had to apply for a weapons carry license if they wanted to carry a gun.

The new law does not do away with the license process.

“It just basically offers an additional way for lawful weapons holders,” he explained.

Judge Lakes pointed to three reasons why people should still consider getting the weapons carry license; although, they can now carry a concealed handgun without the license. The reasons he gave have to do with easy identification.

  • The license valid is for five years and waives the requirement for you to undergo a federal background check each time you buy a gun from a dealer.
  • Reciprocity: Other states recognize Georgia’s weapons carry license.

“That would allow you to cross state lines and carry in other states if those state’s recognize ours,” Judge Lakes said.

  • He mentioned how the license will get you out of a mix-up at a Georgia airport if you inadvertently check a bag with a gun inside of it.

“Assuming you didn’t cause any other issues while you were there, you could be allowed to leave the facility without being charged or detained on the scene, Lakes said “However, there could be additional federal charges and fines from TSA that might come form that but the fact that you are a weapons carry license might mitigate that especially if you were compliant.”

Georgia has seen a record number of weapons carry permit applications during the pandemic, including Chatham County.

In 2021, Chatham County’s probate court processed 6,343 applications – surpassing the last record set in 2020 when it processed 5,814 applications.

But the applicant review process hasn’t been without controversy and lawsuits.

As WTOC Investigates has previously reported, a few applicants have sued Judge Tom Bordeaux after they say he wrongfully denied their weapons carry license. Those lawsuits have cost taxpayers an estimated $92,000 to defend with taxpayers on the hook for paying the legal bills for those who won their lawsuit.

Those denied represent a small percentage of applications. Last year, the judge denied less than five percent of applicants last year.

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