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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Gun Crimes > Are All Felons Barred from Owning Firearms in Georgia?

Are All Felons Barred from Owning Firearms in Georgia?


Georgia is considered a “constitutional carry” state with respect to firearms. This means that most Georgia residents can lawfully carry an open or concealed handgun without a license in most public places. But you can still obtain a Weapons Carry License from the State of Georgia to enable you to legally carry a concealed firearm in another state that requires such a license and has a permit reciprocity agreement with Georgia.

Even under Georgia’s permissive regime, there are still certain people who are legally prohibited from carrying firearms, notably many convicted felons. Under Georgia law, a person who has been convicted of a felony or is “on probation as a first felony offender” cannot legally possess, carry, or transport firearms. Violating this prohibition is itself a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Georgia Supreme Court Revives Constitutional Challenge to Antitrust Exception

There is an exception to the bar on felons possessing firearms for people convicted of a “felony pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraint of trade.” Someone convicted of one of these crimes may petition the Georgia Board of Public Safety for “relief” from the ban, thus allowing them to possess a firearm legally once again. This exception mirrors similar language used in federal law, although the provisions are not identical.

And the differences in the federal and state language recently prompted a ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court over whether the application of Georgia’s exception violates a person’s Second Amendment rights. The case, Kuhlman v. State, involved a plaintiff who previously pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of health care fraud. A federal judge sentenced the plaintiff in 2014 to two-and-a-half years in prison followed by three years of probation. The plaintiff’s probation officially ended in February 2019.

Two years later, in 2021, the plaintiff applied to the Board of Public Safety for the restoration of his firearm rights pursuant to the antitrust exception described above. The Board denied the plaintiff’s application, however, finding that his health care fraud conviction did not constitute a “felony pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraint of trade.”

The plaintiff then filed suit in Georgia state court, alleging that he did qualify for relief. He later amended his lawsuit to allege the antitrust exception statute was “unconstitutional as applied to him to the extent it prohibits his possession of firearms” under the state and federal constitutions. A judge dismissed the case after finding that Georgia’s sovereign immunity from lawsuits barred the relief sought by the plaintiff.

The Georgia Supreme Court disagreed. It did not reach the merits of the plaintiff’s constitutional claims. But it held that sovereign immunity did not bar him from proceeding with his case. The Supreme Court therefore returned the case to the Superior Court for further proceedings.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

If you are charged with a felony related to the possession of a firearm, you may be faced with years in prison and other serious consequences if convicted. So it is in your best interest to work with a qualified Georgia gun crime lawyer. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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