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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm creating this thread to continue a discussion that Dunkel and Ashe and .45_Fan started in the "Carrying a SBR" thread.

The new gun laws after SB 308 took effect have some unusual definitions.
A "Weapon" is either a "handgun" or a "knife."
And a "handgun" does not include a firearm that fires a single "shot" (which I think means "projectile") below .46 centimeters.
Well .46 cm is 4.6 mm. This means that both .177 airguns (pellet diameter 4.5 mm)and .17 rimfire ammo (bullet diameter .172 inch or 4.38 mm) are under the legal size requirement.

A .17 HMR or .17 Mach 2 handgun is not really a "handgun" under Georgia's new weapons carry law.

(A pellet pistol, BB gun, or other airgun never was, regardless of projectile size, since it doesn't use an explosive to throw the projectile. It's not a firearm.)

Now, this is not a theoretical discussion. Even though both of the .17 rimfire rounds were developed for use in varmint rifles and small-game hunting guns, there are small and concealable handguns out there that come chambered for these calibers.

Here's a YouTube video of a guy showing off his Taurus small-frame snub-nosed (2" barrel) revolver in .17 HMR.

What's up with this loophole in the law?
Why is it there?
Should it be closed?
If we don't close it, what are the possible consequences when it comes to people carrying .17 caliber weapons without a license? Does it matter if the weapons are concealed or not? Does it matter if they are eligiblie or ineligible for a GFL.
What about the age restriction for possessing handguns under age 18?
Could an uncle buy his nephew a .17 rimfire revolver when the kid turns 12?

Let's discuss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Okay, here's what the "firearms law in plain English" section of this website says. This is a summary of what some of the people who run this website (GPDO) think the law means.

Handgun - A firearm of any description, loaded or unloaded, from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged by an action of an explosive where the length of the barrel, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed 12 inches; provided, however, that the term 'handgun' shall not include a gun which discharges a single shot of .46 centimeters or less in diameter

(since the term "shot" is used instead of "bullet", a pistol that fires .17HMR would be considered a handgun).
(16-11-125.1)

I'm not convinced, and I seriously doubt that cops, magistrate judges, assistant DA's and assistant Solicitors who read 16-11-125.1 will pick up on the difference between "a single shot" and "a single bullet" or the term I incorrectly used above, "a single projectile."

To me, something shot out of a gun is a projectile, be it a round ball, a bullet, a sabot slug, or a dart.
It's not obvious to me that using the phrase "discharges a single shot" refers to weapons that fire the kind of round lead balls that shotguns use instead of single-projectile weapons where that one projectile is the full bore diameter.

If GeorgiaPacking.Org's "plain English" version of the law is correct, then what kind of weapons WERE intended to be exempt from the definition of "handgun"? Obviously the legislators meant something, or the words would not be there.
And if the exception is for some kind of shotgun-pistol that fires "shot" instead of "bullets", what about the requirement here that the non-handgun only discharge "a single shot"? A one-shot shot-shooting gun that is not a shotgun? :?:
 

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If GeorgiaPacking.Org's "plain English" version of the law is correct, then what kind of weapons WERE intended to be exempt from the definition of "handgun"? Obviously the legislators meant something, or the words would not be there.
Pellet and BB guns?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Two problems with that: 1--plenty of pellet guns use .22 caliber pellets. Less common is .20 cal, but there are still a couple of popular models of airguns on the market that use that caliber too. And air-soft pistols shoot 6mm plastic pellets, which are over the given size limit here. So if the legislature intended to exempt airguns by restricting projectile size, they failed miserably.

2-- But they did clearly exempt all airguns by requiring that a handgun use "the action of an explosive" to push the bullet / shot / missile out the barrel.
 

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My understanding is this goofy language came from the Governors office. Yes its confusing, and I am sure the intent was to protect air guns, but thats what happens when someone doesn't understand the changes they are suggesting. No one that I know of is volunteering to be the test case on this one. I suspect the courts would not rule that .17HMR revolvers are exempt from the license requirement. They would take intent into consideration and that bullets are not "shot".
 

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Constitutional carry is already here. We're just discussing calibers! :shattered:
 

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Well if it's not a "Handgun" or "Weapon" under the law, then there are really no off limit locations are there?



My questions are these.
What exactly is the history of this particular section of the law?
What was the wording Prior to this change, and when was it changed?

Prior to the common use of cartridges, most projectiles were commonly called "ball" or "shot" IIRC
 

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gunsmoker said:
A firearm of any description, loaded or unloaded, from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged by an action of an explosive where the length of the barrel, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed 12 inches; provided, however, that the term 'handgun' shall not include a gun which discharges a single shot of .46 centimeters or less in diameter
The thing is, the very first sentence splits up all projectiles into 3 categories, bullets, shot, and other missiles. Then it goes on to exempt "shot" under a certain size. It very clearly makes the distinction between a bullet and shot.
 

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Does the law define the term shot?

If it doesn't then wouldn't they have to use the common definitions for the word? I know most federal laws assume undefined words retain their common dictionary meaning.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shot
Shot ? ?

noun, plural shots or, for 6, 8, shot; verb, shot·ted, shot·ting.
â€"noun
  • 1. a discharge of a firearm, bow, etc.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
  • 2. the range of or the distance traveled by a missile in its flight.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
  • 3. an aimed discharge of a missile.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
  • 4. an attempt to hit a target with a missile.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
  • 5. an act or instance of shooting a firearm, bow, etc.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
  • 6. a small ball or pellet of lead, a number of which are loaded in a cartridge and used for one charge of a shotgun.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
  • 7. such pellets collectively: a charge of shot.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
  • 8. a projectile for discharge from a firearm or cannon.[/*:m:2lvlaaq3]
 

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Ashe said:
If it doesn't then wouldn't they have to use the common definitions for the word? I know most federal laws assume undefined words retain their common dictionary meaning.

noun, plural shots or, for 6, 8, shot; verb, shot·ted, shot·ting.
â€"noun
  • 1. a discharge of a firearm, bow, etc.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
  • 2. the range of or the distance traveled by a missile in its flight.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
  • 3. an aimed discharge of a missile.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
  • 4. an attempt to hit a target with a missile.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
  • 5. an act or instance of shooting a firearm, bow, etc.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
  • 6. a small ball or pellet of lead, a number of which are loaded in a cartridge and used for one charge of a shotgun.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
  • 7. such pellets collectively: a charge of shot.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
  • 8. a projectile for discharge from a firearm or cannon.[/*:m:5nl9xlra]
Since they already split up bullet and shot earlier in the very same section of code, and definition #8 would also cover bullets, it seems to naturally follow that they must have intended for shot to mean definition #6. Also, aren't these definitions usually ranked in order from most common to least?
 

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gunsmoker said:
I'm creating this thread to continue a discussion that Dunkel and Ashe and .45_Fan started in the "Carrying a SBR" thread.

The new gun laws after SB 308 took effect have some unusual definitions.
A "Weapon" is either a "handgun" or a "knife."
And a "handgun" does not include a firearm that fires a single "shot" (which I think means "projectile") below .46 centimeters.
Well .46 cm is 4.6 mm. This means that both .177 airguns (pellet diameter 4.5 mm)and .17 rimfire ammo (bullet diameter .172 inch or 4.38 mm) are under the legal size requirement.

A .17 HMR or .17 Mach 2 handgun is not really a "handgun" under Georgia's new weapons carry law.

(A pellet pistol, BB gun, or other airgun never was, regardless of projectile size, since it doesn't use an explosive to throw the projectile. It's not a firearm.)

Now, this is not a theoretical discussion. Even though both of the .17 rimfire rounds were developed for use in varmint rifles and small-game hunting guns, there are small and concealable handguns out there that come chambered for these calibers.

Here's a YouTube video of a guy showing off his Taurus small-frame snub-nosed (2" barrel) revolver in .17 HMR.

What's up with this loophole in the law?
Why is it there?
Should it be closed?
If we don't close it, what are the possible consequences when it comes to people carrying .17 caliber weapons without a license? Does it matter if the weapons are concealed or not? Does it matter if they are eligiblie or ineligible for a GFL.
What about the age restriction for possessing handguns under age 18?
Could an uncle buy his nephew a .17 rimfire revolver when the kid turns 12?

Let's discuss.
That's a decent video. It makes me want to pick one up for "plinking" turtle around the pond.
 

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GAGunOwner said:
Ashe said:
Well if it's not a "Handgun" or "Weapon" under the law, then there are really no off limit locations are there?

My questions are these.
What exactly is the history of this particular section of the law?
What was the wording Prior to this change, and when was it changed?

Prior to the common use of cartridges, most projectiles were commonly called "ball" or "shot" IIRC
I think it would still be a no-go in schools.
Federal law makes it illegal w/o a license and leaves "with a license" up to the states. So I think WITH a GWL school carry would be legal, being the .17HMR is not regulated by the state. That which is not illegal, is legal.
 

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rankhornjp said:
Federal law makes it illegal w/o a license and leaves "with a license" up to the states. So I think WITH a GWL school carry would be legal, being the .17HMR is not regulated by the state. That which is not illegal, is legal.
That's not exactly how it works. It being legal is not the same has having a permit issued by the state.
 

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GAGunOwner said:
That is how it works.
The federal statute does not say "as long as it is legal according to state law" it states "as long as you have a permit issued by the states". You can try to argue in court that this is the same thing, but I wouldn't bet jail time on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Right. The Federal law about Gun-Free School Zones (18 U.S.C. §921(25) doesn't apply to people who hold a carry license issued by the state in which that school is located.

But our own Georgia state law (16-11-127.1) has a specific definition of "weapon" that only applies to that Code section, for schools. And it defines "weapon" in a way that certainly includes .17 rimfire firearms. Just what Ga Gun Owner said above.

Naturally there are several exceptions in the Georgia school zone law. A few of them apply to non-GFL holders, but others ONLY apply to people with a GFL/ GWL. So if you carry a .17 revolver to a school, you could be violating a felony law that carries a 10-year penalty. (Depending on how you transported / carried this gun and why, and what was going on at the school at the time).
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
16-11-125.1 is the definitions section for "this Part."
Well, what does "this Part" mean? How far down the Code book does it reach?
Apparently it reaches all the way to the Georgia School Safety Zone law, 16-11-127.1, because both of them are in
* Title 16 (crimes)
* Chapter 11 (offenses against public order)
* Article 4 (dangerous things)
* Part 3 (carrying firearms)

So the way the Code sections read in black-and-white, the School Zone law has LOST its own definition of "weapon" and the newer definition of "weapon" as defined in 16-11-125.1 is the only one that should matter.

But that's NOT how I would INTERPRET IT, as a judge or prosecutor, using the standard rules of statutory construction.

I would say that there is a conflict between two rules of statutory construction. One rule says new laws trump conflicting older laws. This would indicate that the new definition of "weapon" which the Legislature said to use throughout this "part" of the Code should control.

But the other rule of statutory construction is that the specific shall control over the general. And 16-11-127.1 is a more specific law dealing with the very limited scenario of weapons near or in schools. And it has a long and fairly detailed definition of "weapon" of its own. So I think that the SPECIFIC definition of "weapon" in the school zone law has survived enactment of S.B.308 and will continue to control.
And that's the opinion of the folks here at GPDO who wrote the "Gun Laws in Plain English" summary in the "Gun Laws" section of this page (and every page) above.
 
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