Mike the Gun Guy (courtesy huffpost.com)

“You know that gun control is no longer an issue, either pro or con, when both sides try to make you believe that something big has happened when nothing of any real importance happened at all,” huffingtonpost.com‘s “Mike the Gun Guy” opines. “I’m referring to the gun law just passed in Georgia which is awaiting Governor Nathan Deal’s expected signature, a law described by the New York Times as one of ‘breathtaking sweep’ and by the NRA as a ‘historic victory for the 2nd Amendment.'” Translation: the new law is neither the end of the world as gun control advocates know it nor the liberation of Peach Tree gun owners as the NRA proclaims. And for once, Mike’s not wrong. In fact, he draws attention to a huge, deeply worrying loophole in GA’s concealed carry licensing procedure . . .

While Georgia does not require a permit in order to purchase or own a gun, it does require a background check and prints in order to carry a weapon, and the issuance of said license can be denied if the licensing authority (County Probate Judge) decides that the candidate, even if he meets the legal requirements, is ‘not of good moral character.’ You’ll have to read down to Section 1-7 to find this little gem and a few pages later you’ll learn that someone who is denied a carry license can appeal the decision and will then appear at a hearing — before the same judge! If the judge prevails at the hearing perhaps you can move to another County and try again.

True story! Click here to read the bill. [Section 1 -7 starts at line 365.] The “good moral character” loophole is wide open to abuse; it’s a perfectly reprehensible excuse to deny Americans their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. How it survived the “gun lobby’s” examination is anyone’s guess. And let’s give credit where credit’s due: Mike the Gun Guy nails it.

Can someone from the NRA please explain to me how a law that determines my fitness to carry a gun based on something as vague as “moral character,” advances 2nd Amendment rights? By the same token, does the Brady Campaign really believe that taking a pee in an airport toilet without first unhooking my holster indicates that guns will soon be found in every nook and cranny of the Peach State?

I don’t agree with Mike’s assessment that gun control is a non-issue (obvs.) or that the Georgia bill is unimportant. Even though it’s not a true “guns everywhere” bill (would that it were) it’s a step in the right direction – save that pesky “moral character clause.” It may be too late to rectify this defect, but the sooner it is eliminated the sooner Georgia can continue it laudable progress towards firearms freedom. One of the most important issues of this or any other time.

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35 Responses to HuffPo Writer Highlights Defect in Georgia’s “Guns Everywhere” Law

    • This is technically true. However, if counties actually started using this clause, it would almost certainly be challenged in court, with a very good chance of being shot down.

      • Sure, the courts might shoot it down. Do you want your rights to ultimately depend on the luck of the draw as to which justices hear the case?

        Of course, either way the final decision turns out, it will take several years to get a ruling so the state will be actively infringing on people’s rights that entire time. That is unacceptable.

    • I get what you’re saying, and it’s correct, but as a practical matter, it’s probably meaningless. Our licenses in Texas are officially shall issue, but there’s a wild card catch all clause in the law, similiar to this one, that allows denial if you’re not capable of exercising sound judgment.

      Says who and by what standard? The law isn’t too clear on those answers. Nevertheless, I’ve never heard of anyone arbitrarily denied by exploiting such a clause as a pretext. Even the drivers license law has a similar clause, but nobody’s being targeted for denial of those, either. It comes down to culture and whether such a clause would ever actually be acted upon.

      My own thinking is that if the government wants to deny your application and believes they can get away with it politically, then they will, regardless whether such a clause exists. Tge proof? Look at CT. They’re trampling all over rights, despite clear language in the Constitution and SC rulings, because they can get away with it politically. The polics matter most, despite our liking to think of ourselves as a nation of laws.

    • I’m a GWL holder, and the permitting process, to my knowledge is pretty much “Shall Issue”, despite the language. There does exist the potential for the current language to be abused, but as a practical matter, most jurisdictions in GA are deeply red, with bright blue spots in a few counties in ATL and again down near Savannah. The potential for it to be a problem is there, but GA’s political identity would need to undergo a radical shift before it becomes a problem.

      The closest story to the system not working is my own experience where the clerk who was supposed to submit my GBI background check to the probate judge retired right after she sent the batch my application was in and it sat on a shelf for a couple weeks.

  1. According to some of my anti-gun acquaintances, anyone who owns a gun is not of good moral character.

      • Even if you pee like a girl you can still leave the holster and weapon on your belt, you just have to hang on to it.

    • Note the word “airport”

      Basically it meant that you had to remove your firearm just by virtue of being in the airport, which is now clarified a little better in the law.

    • I think he means that the Georgia law makes it legal to bring a concealed weapon into an airport.

      –Tommycat beat me to it.

  2. I hope everyone recognizes the danger of a phrase such as “not of good moral character”. I hope everyone also recognizes how dangerous it is giving a single person the power to decide what that means.

    A judge could decide that anyone who failed to vote for the his favorite political party is “not of good moral character”. A judge could also decide that anyone who fails to donate to the campaigns of his/her favorite politicians is “not of good moral character”. Need I continue with more examples?

    • Yes.

      Both of your examples would violate the 1st amendment, and blatantly. Judges aren’t that stupid.

      The case you’re looking for would be like an individual who has failed to pay child support, but who hasn’t been charged with criminal nonsupport.

      • actually, I am sure it will be applied against someone “of color” but no Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson protests

      • “Judges aren’t that stupid.” Seriously, do you actually believe that statement? If so you need to do some research into what has been handed down as rulings by many of our “not stupid” judges.

  3. Gee, I read and reread the Second Amendment after reading this one and, for the life of me, cannot find ANYWHERE, in that Amendment where the words “of good moral character” appear. These knuckleheads need to read and understand what “shall not be infringed” means. For the statists out there, “shall not be infringed” DOES appear in the Second.
    Anytime we apply subjective evaluation to the Constitution we have what the liberals love to insist on, a “living, breathing Constitution”. Not the rule of law which requires consistency but the rule of men which is subject to the vagaries of the moment, a democracy if you will and not a republic. The subjective evaluation of “good moral character” does not survive Constitutional, or common sense, scrutiny.
    This “law” is b.s. It does not rise to the level of as law to be respected or adhered to.

  4. I wouldn’t be too concerned. The phrase “not of good moral character” implies the lack of “good moral character” which is pretty well defined legally. The test of “good moral character” is used in many circumstances, most often in Federal law. It is well defined and involves pretty well defined tests. Judges can’t go willy-nilly on it because the tests most often involve certain past criminal behavior.

    For example, someone known to be involved in prostitution would be “not of good moral character”.

    • Bullshit. “Good moral character” is incredibly vague. What is illegal is well-defined, yes. But define, “good moral character”. Certain things we can all agree on. Murderers are bad people, for example. But what about other, more subjective things? There are plenty who would say that my lack of religion inherently makes me an immoral person. Who decides that? And especially when we’re talking about guns, when there are plenty of people who would say that simply owning a gun means you’re a horrible person.

      • And what’s to stop a judge from deciding that 6 or more unpaid parking tickets constitutes “not of good moral character?”

        And who decides whose morals are the proper standard? Almost everything we do legally today was at some time in the past considered immoral. Homosexuality, abortion, Nazi-ism (not illegal in this country), all perfectly legal, often “the new normal,” but any judge could decide they indicated “bad moral character” and deny your Second Amendment RKBA.

    • “For example, someone known to be involved in prostitution would be “not of good moral character”.”

      Which is terribly ironic, because the client/prostitute transaction is probably the most honest interaction between a man and a woman that there is. And ALL prostitutes are of higher moral character than any politician!

      Self-righteous busybodyism will be the death of us all!

  5. You’re not kidding about the BAD reviews!
    They even had 2 minus 1 reviews hidden away. Writing for Huffington is not much of a recommendation.

  6. Is the “good moral character” a new provision that came with this particular bill, or has it been there for a while?

  7. “Mike the Gun guy” on Huff post has made so many basic and objective errors on fact so many times that the is unreadable.

    Extreme left and right wing media outlets both do this. They hire a “moderate” or opposing view that is the least sensible, least articulate, most factually challenged and most incompetent person imaginable and then knock him/her down as a strawman.

  8. I’ve lived in GA for a combined (minus my 5 years with the Army) 22 years and never heard of an abuse or even a use of the good moral character clause to deny a carry permit. Is it language that should be removed? Yes! But fortunately it is language in GA law, one of the most pro-gun states in the Union. So it doesn’t bother me one bit.

    And IF they were using clause to deny carry permits believe me my family would have known about it. No arrests, no convictions, but damn have they been under investigation several times each in the same county that they got their permits through.

    • Very good to hear. Depends on the person who signs off. In Philadelphia, it’s the city police (last I heard), and they were denying permits for unpaid parking tickets under the equivalent moral character requirement. In contrast, the sheriffs of most counties won’t do this. If it happens anywhere I would guess it might happen in Atlanta, but if not then fine. Still worth fixing, of course, to prevent some future abuses.

  9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CONCEAL CARRY PERMIT IN GEORIGA. I HAVE REPEATED THIS MANY TIMES IN MANY ARTICLES ABOUT MY STATE AND THE WRITERS CONTINUE TO MAKE THIS ERROR. IT IS CALLED A WEAPONS CARRY LICENSE – OUR STATE HAS NO LAWS WHAT SO EVER ON CONCEALMENT OF A FIREARM – THUS WE ARE A CONCEAL AND OPEN CARRY STATE.

    Sorry for the caps, maybe someone will catch it this time.

  10. Well the “good moral character” language is not underlined in the bill, which means that it was existing law prior to this bill.

    And +1 to TITAN308

  11. The lawyers in Georgia continue to have a field day with probate judges that refuse to issue GWLs without good cause, and “good moral character” ain’t one those good causes.

  12. The amusing part of the “OMG GUNZ EVERYWHERE” headlines is that the new Georgia law legalizes carry in places where many other states already allow carry.

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