It’s well known that guns and gun ownership are hot-button issues in American politics today. People on both sides of the aisle have competing ideas on background checks and firearm safety laws, and it doesn’t look like we’re about to fully resolve any of these issues soon. However, even while this national debate is going on, there are still plenty of good, upstanding citizens who want to follow the law and protect their right to own a firearm. Among other concerns, as a gun owner in the Woodstock, Georgia area or anywhere in Canton, Marietta, and Cartersville, you should be aware of Georgia gun laws and specifically what they say about your right to self-defense.

If you’d like to learn more about your rights as a gun owner in Georgia, or if you need to speak with a gun crimes attorney, call the Law Office of Jay G. Wall to schedule a consultation. The firm is ready to help you understand and uphold your rights.

Self-Defense Laws in Georgia

All states set their own gun laws to some extent, and this most notably includes self-defense laws and open carry laws. In general, Georgia has fewer restrictions on its gun owners than other states, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any laws. It’s part of your responsibility as a gun owner to thoroughly know and understand these laws. Currently, Georgia has a permitless, open-carry, and concealed-carry law in effect. This typically applies to those 21 and over who have purchased a firearm in the state, although those 18 and older who show proof of basic training or military service can also qualify. This means you can have a firearm on your person, either concealed or visible, in most public places.

Georgia’s self-defense laws use a “stand your ground” model and have been in place since 2006. This allows the gun owner to use their firearm to protect both themselves and others. The basis of stand-your-ground laws is that the individual has no duty to retreat if they perceive a threat to themselves, others around them, or their property, and may be able to use deadly force against this perceived threat. The “no retreat” clause is crucial to understand here. In other words, even if you do have the ability or means to run away or escape from the threat, you are not required to by law.

It’s also important to understand the nuances of the use of deadly force. Deadly force is only acceptable if you legitimately perceive your life (or someone else’s life) is in immediate or grave danger. This last point can be complicated and somewhat subjective, which is why an experienced attorney can be crucial if you need to defend your actions in a court of law.

Use of a Gun/Firearm in Self-Defense

Because Georgia is an open-carry state and has a stand-your-ground self-defense law, it’s important to understand how these two relatively broad and nonrestrictive regulations could affect your actions and their repercussions. While you shouldn’t be afraid to use your firearm to protect yourself or others, you also must act reasonably. This means that your use of force should be proportional to the perceived threat.

For example, if you’re in your home and hear a window break, then find a man aggressively approaching you, you have the right to use deadly force against him because it’s obvious he’s already committed the crime of breaking and entering and is a clear threat to you and your family. Additionally, in this circumstance, the perpetrator would not need to be brandishing a gun for you to perceive the threat as “deadly.” On the other hand, if you’re out at a bar with your friends and one of them gets into an argument with another patron and they begin pushing one another but no weapons have been seen, it would be unreasonable for you then to use your firearm against the other person.

Know Your Rights

Nobody wants to be in a position where they have to use their gun in self-defense and injure or take the life of another person, even the staunchest gun-rights activists. However, these difficult situations do happen. If you’ve had to use a fireman in self-defense—whether or not you feel your actions were reasonable and justified—consulting with an attorney on the matter can help. When you meet with an attorney, they’ll listen carefully to your side of the story and gather and examine evidence including witness testimony, surveillance videos, police reports, or medical reports to thoroughly understand what happened. If you are forced to defend yourself in court for your actions, you’ll need to prove that your actions were reasonable under the circumstances, that you perceived a true threat, and that you used your firearm only to protect yourself or those around you.

Seek Trusted Legal Counsel

If you’re in the Woodstock, Georgia area and would like to consult with a skilled gun rights lawyer about a recent situation where you used your firearm in self-defense, contact Law Office of Jay G. Wall today.