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Kids and Guns. Guns and Kids. Minors Can Possess A Gun. Sometimes.

Guns and kids. Kids and guns. This question was asked of me: Is it legal for a 17 year old child to have a unloaded pistol in his car when going to and from target practice and/or hunting?

OCGA 16-11-132 says that it is illegal for a person under 18 years of age to possess or have under their control a handgun, with exceptions. The exceptions are that the handgun ban doesn’t apply to a person who is (1) attending a hunter education course or firearm safety course; (2) engaging in the practice of shooting or use of a firearm at a established range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction where such range is located (what in the world does that mean?); (3) engaged in organized firearm competition; (4) hunting or fishing pursuant to a valid license and has permission of the land owner and the handgun, whenever loaded, is carried only in an open and fully exposed manner; and finally, (5) when one is travelling to any of the above exceptions, one is exempt from the handgun ban IF the gun is not loaded. So, to answer the question first asked, yes the young man can have a handgun IF it is unloaded during his travels to the hunting place or target range.

As a side note, my friend Charles Bond points out that it is always hog season in Georgia and that no license is required if hunting on your, or your family’s, land. If not on your land, a hunting license is required if at least 16 years old. Just keep that in mind when the DNR officer is turning on his blue lights.

But, as always, there are even more exceptions.

There is another exception that says that anyone under 18 can possess a handgun if they are on real property under the control of their parent, legal guardian or grandparent, IF the child has permission of the parent or legal guardian. Why not also the permission of the grandparent? Got me. The Legislature does dumb stuff sometimes.

There is an exception that says anyone under the age of 18 may possess a handgun good kid with gun, with their parent’s or legal guardian’s permission, for the right of self defense. But again, the grandparents have no such authority.

Now if your beautiful little child has been convicted in big boy court or adjudicated in juvenile court of a forcible felony or misdemeanor, such person does not get to possess a handgun even in the above situations. Except, maybe, the self defense thing, because this past year the Legislature decreed that even convicted felons have the right to self defense. Many complained about that law, but that has always been the law and is a topic for another day.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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