Here's what I have so far:
Any thoughts?Honorable David Dodd
Judge, Probate Court of Cobb County
32 Waddell Street
Marietta, Georgia 30090
Dear Judge Dodd,
I applied for my Georgia Firearms License on November 15, 2005. It was not issued until February 21, 2006. It took 38 days longer than allowed by Georgia law.
When I inquired about the status of my application to the court staff, and questioned the delay in reference to OGCA 16-11-129, I was referred to Attorney Generalâ€™s Unofficial Opinion U-78-45, which refers to law enforcement agency reports as a "condition precedent." I obtained a copy of U-78-45, and reviewed the Attorney General's unofficial advice on this matter.
I would like to point out that this opinion is not "binding" on the Probate Court of Cobb County. Rather, it is a lawyer's opinion of the law as it was in 1978. In 1978, the law relating to the issuance of a firearms license was substantially different than it is today. In fact, the opinion says, in pertinent part:
"You will note in both the 1976 and 1978 Acts that this report may initially be given to the judge by way of telephone, but must ultimately come to the judge in written form."
Today, however, the law says:
"When no derogatory information is found on the applicant bearing on his eligibility to obtain a license, a report shall not be required."- OCGA 16-11-129(d).
Since the law is now different than when the opinion was written, the opinion should no longer be considered valid as applied to today's statute.
I would also like to take the opportunity to point out that the Unofficial Opinion also ignores the fact that if any information is found after the 60 day limit, the Probate Judge may revoke the license. Because this is not mentioned in the Opinion I can only assume this came from a later amendment as well and gives yet one more reason why the three decades old Unofficial Opinion does not apply to today's circumstances.
As I previously mentioned, the law enforcement agency is no longer required to issue a report if no derogatory information is discovered. Also, "Not later than 60 days after the date of the application the judge of the probate court shall issue the applicant a license to carry any pistol or revolver if no facts establishing ineligibility have been reported . . ." OCGA 16-11-129(d).
Might I request that your office contact the Attorney General for an updated opinion that reflects current law? As you probably already know, the Attorney General will not respond to a request for an opinion by a mere citizen, but I believe that the opinion needs to be revised to reflect the statute as it currently exists. Attorney General opinions are not carved in stone but, as the Attorney General web site states, "From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete"
It is disturbing to think that, while we citizens are expected to follow both the letter and spirit of the laws of the land, our elected officials and their respective staffs seem to regard them as mere guidelines. It is my hope that a review of the applicable Codes and Opinions will result in future applicants receiving their Firearms Licenses in both a timelier manner and in accordance with Georgia state law. Thank you for your review and consideration of this matter, and thank you again for your staff's professionalism and courtesy.