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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been carrying for a few years now. I never really understood the "Public Gathering" wording until I read some threads on here. I have been carrying into malls, Walmart, grocery stores etc.-places with more than 15 people. Am I in violation of the law? What are the chnaces of getting caught and prosecuted? Do you guys just carry anyway and ignore? Please educate me on this.
 

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Re: Pubic Gathering-How many of you ignore this?

Doc Holliday said:
I have been carrying into malls, Walmart, grocery stores etc.-places with more than 15 people.
Well first a mall, walmart, grocery stores etc... None of those places are a public gathering.

There is no 15 people rule. The best example you can go by is this:
State v. Burns, 200 Ga. App. 16 (1991). It is only two paragraphs, so here it is in full.

Appellee was arrested at a McDonald's restaurant for the offense of carrying a concealed weapon (OCGA § 16-11-126); however, the State did not pursue the charge upon discovering that appellee had a valid gun permit. Instead, he was charged with carrying a deadly weapon to a public gathering (OCGA § 16-11-127). The trial court granted appellee's motion to dismiss the accusation, stating that McDonald's was not a public gathering as contemplated under the statute, and the State appealed.

OCGA § 16-11-127(b) provides that a "public gathering" includes but is not limited to "athletic or sporting events, schools or school functions, churches or church functions, political rallies or functions, publicly owned or operated buildings, or establishments at which alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises." The State argues that the statute seeks to protect people from injury at public gatherings, caused by others who bring deadly weapons to such places and does not exclude an establishment such as McDonald's, which is a place where the public lawfully gathers. However, this broad interpretation equates "public gathering" to "public place" and blurs the distinction we must assume the legislature intended to make in specifically referring to gatherings in OCGA § 16-11-127 and by limiting its restriction to gatherings as opposed to proscribing the carrying of deadly weapons in public places as defined by OCGA § 16-1-3(15). We agree with appellee that such a construction would render licensing statutes unnecessary because of the potential of violating the statutes by carrying a weapon outside one's household, in public, where the possibility exists that people might gather around someone carrying a weapon. We have held that a conviction was authorized when a weapon was brought to a place where "people were present" (Jordan v. State, 166 Ga.App. 417(4), 304 S.E.2d 522 (1983)), and it appears from reading subsection (b) and giving the words their ordinary meaning that the statute should apply, in addition to the situations described therein, when people are gathered or will be gathered for a particular function and not when a weapon is carried lawfully to a public place, where people may gather. Accordingly, the focus is not on the "place" but on the "gathering" of people, and in our view, the court did not err in dismissing the accusation because appellee's possession of a weapon and mere presence in a public place did not constitute a violation of OCGA § 16- 11-127.
Judgment affirmed.
 

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Re: Pubic Gathering-How many of you ignore this?

Doc Holliday said:
I have been carrying into malls, Walmart, grocery stores etc.-places with more than 15 people. Am I in violation of the law?
Nope. Read the State v. Burns case GS1 posted, and tell us what you think.

I do not know where you go the "15 person" line of demarcation between a public place and a public gathering, but I am not aware of it.

Neither WalMart nor the mall nor grocery stores are "public gatherings," unless people are gathered or will gather for a particular function.
 

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Re: Pubic Gathering-How many of you ignore this?

Malum Prohibitum said:
Neither WalMart nor the mall nor grocery stores are "public gatherings," unless people are gathered or will gather for a particular function.
Or, if it's a really cool grocery store that sells shots of tequila at the checkout stand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
GAGunOwner said:
As for ignoring the "public gathgering" law I'm sure that many people do it, and never get caught. I don't think a public forum is the place to discuss the "ignoring" of the law.

Anti's, LEOs, politicians, and people who haven't made up their minds yet may, and probably do, read this site. We are, and should convey ourselves as being, strict law abiders.
I am a strict, law abiding, God fearing, American citizen. Heck, I've never had a speeding ticket before. I am not talking about ignoring and going to one of the five specific no carry public gatherings. Until I found this site, I didn't realize that a controversy existed with the "public gathering" wording with the law. Forgive my ignorance. I just wanted to know that if carrying into a mall or store was in violation of the law because I've done this thousands of times.

As far as the 15 people rule goes, I read another thread on this site. The poster had taken a CCW class with the Douglas County Sheriff's Dept. During the class lecture portion of the class the sheriff's deputy said that a public gather was anywhere that 15 or more people had gathered.

As far as reading the AG opinion and the McDonald's case, I would say that what I have done is legal.
 

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Doc Holliday said:
As far as the 15 people rule goes, I read another thread on this site. The poster had taken a CCW class with the Douglas County Sheriff's Dept. During the class lecture portion of the class the sheriff's deputy said that a public gather was anywhere that 15 or more people had gathered.
Cops will tell you anything, man. I would be careful in taking their advice . . . :wink:
 

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Sledgehammer
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Doc,

There is no 15 people rule. Whoever taught that class was wrong, but, as you are learning, there are many, many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the public gathering law.

But, the case law and AG opininion (that you already have been referred to) make it fairly clear that malls and grocery stores are not public gatherings.
 

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Re: Pubic Gathering-How many of you ignore this?

jrm said:
Malum Prohibitum said:
Neither WalMart nor the mall nor grocery stores are "public gatherings," unless people are gathered or will gather for a particular function.
Or, if it's a really cool grocery store that sells shots of tequila at the checkout stand.
You are thinking of Mexico and other South American countries. Candy bar or a shot of good tequila... or BOTH!!!

My dad said that was it was a great shopping experience, my mom went store to store looking at shirts and gifts, my dad went along store to store tasting the tequila. 8)
 

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That's pa on the right, the one that keeps falling over. :drink:
 

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atlctyslkr said:
Wasn't the original intent of public gatherings to mean things like outdoor festivals, free public concerts?
Oh, buy, does this open up a can of worms.
 

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atlctyslkr said:
Wasn't the original intent of public gatherings to mean things like outdoor festivals, free public concerts?
If you mean keeping black people from carrying, then yes.
 
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