I want to say I am constantly surprised by the inaccurate information that a lot of people have about gun laws, gun ownership, and guns in general. The truth is, I stopped being surprised about it years ago. Now, I just fight the urge to make a smart-ass comment, in favor of a calm five minutes of education.
Case in point. I recently found out that a family member owns an interesting pistol that he inherited from his father, and I offered to check it out, clean it, and take him to the range so we could shoot it.
"Oh, no, we can't do that, it isn't registered."
So, I took a few minutes to educate about gun registration. Only six states require registration of firearms, and Georgia isn't one of them.
"Well, what about when you buy a new gun, don't they register it then?"
No, when you buy a new gun from a licensed dealer, you are required to fill out a BATFE form 4473 and have your background checked. But the gun isn't being registered.
"Okay. But I can't go shoot it, I don't have a license."
In Georgia, no license is required to shoot a gun, or to own a gun. As long as you are not going to carry it concealed and loaded, you are fine. You can even carry it concealed in your home or business, without a license, provided you would be allowed to get a license under the law, if you chose to apply. Since my family member is over 21, not a felon, or otherwise prohibited from owning a gun or getting a Georgia Weapons License,then he's okay.
You would think this misinformation would be limited to novice gun owners. But that's not so. I'm borrowing an AR-15 to take to the Blogger Shoot this weekend, and the owner told me I needed to be careful with it in public, since it had never been registered since he bought it years ago. I asked him what he meant, and it was clear he thought Georgia had registration, too.
Plus, he said, no background check had been run when he bought it. Very hush hush, he thought, out of the back of a guy's trunk.
Turns out he bought it from an individual seller, not a dealer. No problem under the law, since he, too, is legally allowed to buy and own a gun. And individual sellers are not required to conduct any background checks.
Of course, the onus is still on the seller to know the buyer is legal. Did he give him a bill of sale? Yes. Did he copy down your Drivers License number? Yes. Smart fellow.
One of my goals with this blog is to stamp out misinformation and myth. But it's also something I do every day.
For more information, check out your state firearms rights group for the laws in your area. A great source in Georgia is GeorgiaCarry.org, whose Gun Law FAQ is here.