We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we realize that we missed or are about to miss an important deadline, like renewing our driver’s license, or our car insurance, or even paying that seldom-used credit card bill. But what if your “weapons carry license” is about to expire and you don’t want to go defenseless for the several weeks it may take for the renewal process to be completed and your new license issued?
Well, in Georgia, you may have just caught a break. Seldom used, there is a provision in the Georgia statutes that solves that dilemma.
Specifically, Georgia Code § 16-11-129(i) has the answer. “Any person who holds a weapons carry license under this Code section may, at the time he or she applies for a renewal of the license, also apply for a temporary renewal license if less than 90 days remain before expiration of the license he or she then holds….,” the law states.
Furthermore, the law provides: “[U]nless the judge of the probate court knows or is made aware of any fact which would make the applicant ineligible for a five-year renewal license, the judge shall at the time of application issue a temporary renewal license to the applicant.”
What happens if the probate judge refuses to issue the temporary license? The statute also addresses that possibility as well. “When an eligible applicant fails to receive a license, temporary renewal license, or renewal license within the time period required by this Code section and the application or request has been properly filed, the applicant may bring an action in mandamus or other legal proceeding in order to obtain a license, temporary renewal license, or renewal license…. If such applicant is the prevailing party, he or she shall be entitled to recover his or her costs in such action, including reasonable attorney’s fees.” “Mandamus” is a legal remedy that is used to force a public official to perform a required duty.
Just such a scenario occurred last year when on January 6, 2014, Iziah Smith went to the Richmond County Probate Court to obtain his temporary license as his weapons carry license was to expire in less than 90 days. The staff for Probate Court Judge Harry B. James, III refused to issue the temporary renewal of Smith’s permit. The clerk told Smith they don’t issue such temporary gun renewal licenses, and in fact the last time they did was 1999. (Apparently, according to the Judge, no person since 1999 had ever sought a temporary permit under this little-known provision in the law). So on February 18, 2014, Smith and a gun-rights group, GeorgiaCarry.org, filed a lawsuit against Judge James, seeking a “writ of mandamus” to get the temporary renewal gun license issued.
For reasons unrelated to the merits of the case, the district court dismissed the lawsuit, and Smith appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. Arguments by both sides were heard on November 2, 2015 before the Court. To read the case summary, go to the following link and scroll down to page 7:
We are not advocating that you wait until the last minute to renew your license. Know your expiration date and take action in plenty of time to avoid it lapsing. But we all lead busy lives and sometimes some things slip through the cracks. Just know that if you find yourself in such a situation, you have a legal avenue available to maintain a license to carry your weapon.
Do you know when your license expires?