In order to assist the public, what follows are some highlights of some of the changes in the licensing part of the statute, as well as a listing of the requirements for obtaining a WCL in the Cherokee County Probate Court beginning July 1.
The Legislature did away with requiring fingerprints to be taken on license renewals, which previously existed under O.C.G.A. §16-11-129. However, what actually constitutes a “renewal” was left undefined. After reviewing the current usage of the term, especially in terms of the Temporary Renewal License, along with discussions with Legislators, the Cherokee County Probate Court will consider the renewal period to run from the date the license is issued until 30 days after the license has expired.
Based on an opinion of the attorney general, renewals will also only be available for licenses previously issued by Cherokee County.
Licenses for persons 18 to 20 years old
Before July 1, one had to be 21 years old to receive a WCL. Under the new law, these licenses are also available to persons 18 to 20 years old, but only if the applicant has completed basic training and is either actively serving in the U.S. military or has been honorably discharged from the service.
A number of prohibitors — things preventing a person from receiving the WCL — were also changed in the 2014 revisions. These include removing a plea of nolo contendere to a misdemeanor drug charge, any felony as a prohibitor and changing the period of time a person would have to wait to get a license following a revocation from a lifetime prohibitor to three years from the date of revocation.
In light of the changes in the statute, beginning July 1, the following will be the requirements to apply for a Weapons Carry License in Cherokee County.
For applicants 21 years old or older and who have never had a WCL, or whose WCL has been expired for more than 30 days or whose current WCL is from a different county, the following documentation will be required:
• A full application;
• A current Georgia driver’s license or Georgia state-issued identification card, which shows their current address;
• One additional original document with their name and address, which shows they reside within the county, such as a utility statement, vehicle registration or voter registration. If their state-issued identification has a P.O. Box listed as the address, additional documentation of domicile in the county will be required; and
• A total fee of $79.25, which includes the fingerprinting cost, done in the Probate Court offices.
For applicants who have a WCL issued by Cherokee County, which is either not expired or has been expired for 30 days or less, they are required to provide the following documentation:
• All documents required for a new application, along with their current WCL issued by Cherokee County; and
• A fee of $30.
For applicants 18 to 20 years old who are actively serving in military:
• All documents required for a new application, along with original documentation which shows they have completed basic training and are on active duty with the military or have received an honorable discharge from the military; and
• A fee of $79.25, which includes the fingerprinting cost, done in the Probate Court offices.
Once the application is submitted, the applicant will be fingerprinted, if required, and will be photographed. On all applications, the court performs a computer-based background check, which references several different databases maintained by State and Federal Agencies. Once all reports are received back, the court will review them for any concerns and either issue the license or seek additional information from the applicant if needed to clarify discrepancies in the criminal history.
The average time to receive a license after application is three to four weeks, some of which is due to the fact the license is printed by a third party provider located in Vidalia.
Over the last several years, the demand for Weapons Carry Licenses has grown significantly. In 2011, the Cherokee County Probate Court processed 2,162 applications. This increased to 3,500 in 2012 and 4,998 in 2013. Given continued interest and expanded places where weapons can be carried, it is anticipated these numbers will continue to rise.