The following is a video transcript.
Non-lethal or Less Lethal weapons and self-defense
Instead of carrying a firearm, there are many people who frequently carry other types of self-defense items. Carrying these types of weapons is common among those who might be uncomfortable carrying a firearm but understand the need to protect themselves. These types of weapons are known as “non-lethal” or “less lethal weapons”. The three types of weapons we will discuss today are stun guns and tasers, batons and nightsticks, and chemical sprays.
These are all types of non-lethal weapons that are acceptable to carry in Georgia without a weapons carry license. Let’s discuss these weapons, as well as some common misconceptions about less lethal or non-lethal weapons.
Do you NEED to have a weapons carry license to possess non-lethal or less lethal weapons?
It’s important that the stage is set with undoubtedly one of the most common misconceptions about self-defense tools: that a weapons carry license is a requirement to possess non-lethal weapons. The Georgia Code defines a weapon as a knife or handgun:
A handgun is a firearm, loaded or unloaded, from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged by the 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 0.46 centimeter or less in diameter.
A knife is a cutting instrument designed for the purpose of offense and defense consisting of a blade that is greater than 12 inches in length which is fastened to a handle.
The Official Code of Georgia states that a weapons carry license shall authorize any person in possession of a license to carry any weapon in any county of the state. Together this determines that unless the weapon fits the definition of a knife or handgun, as those found in the law, no weapons carry license is required to carry them. A knife with a five inch blade, tasers, batons, and pepper spray, require no carry license.
Stun Guns and tasers
Now, stun guns fall outside the license requirement. Therefore, you can carry a stun gun or a taser without one. However, tasers and stun guns are considered unlawful weapons when in a school zone and therefore, are prohibited in schools unless the possessor meets one of the statutory exemptions that allow carry. Local ordinances may not restrict stun guns and tasers. They’re protected by the state preemption doctrine.
Batons and nightsticks
The same goes for batons and nightsticks. However, they may be prohibited by the school safety zone law. They are included in the state preemption doctrines, so no local jurisdiction can enact ordinances regulating them.
Chemical sprays, in general, are the same way. They’re safe to carry in Georgia without a weapons carry license. They’re included in the state preemption doctrine, which means that local ordinances can’t restrict them. Furthermore, they are not included in the definition of the word “weapon” in the school carry law
Deadly Force & Non-Lethal or Less Lethal Weapons
We refer to these weapons as less lethal or non-lethal weapons. Many people carry them because they give protection without being as deadly as a firearm. But make no mistake, in the right or wrong circumstances, these items can still be deadly weapons. Remember, deadly force is that force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Anything in Georgia can be considered a deadly weapon. If you cause an injury to another, even in protecting yourself, it’s possible for your actions to be viewed as deadly force even though these items are less lethal or non-lethal.
For any questions regarding non-lethal weapons in Georgia, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
I may be misinterpreting my reading on the topic, but brass knuckles appear to have a catch-22 in Georgia carry law. Whether a weapons license is or is not required, as I’m afraid I don’t recall the exact wording, brass knuckles may not be carried concealed, and simultaneously may not be brandished. Wearing them constitutes brandishing, but I know several members of law enforcement locally who consider carrying them openly in specialized holsters to be brandishing as well.
Yes, I know that police don’t need to be legal experts to arrest you; they get to be ignorant of the law while the public is not afforded such leeway, so I know that they cannot be trusted as competent legal advisors. Hence my mentioning it here.
Is openly wearing brass knuckles or knuckle dusters in a sheath legal according to Georgia’s laws, either with or without a weapons permit? And does something like a long shirt partially obscuring them at your belt constitute concealment? (I would reason not; if an LEO were to confront me for carrying them, they would’ve had to be visible to him/her in the first place, with the exception of a weapons pat-down. But law and reason are two very different things. Thus my question as to whether partial coverage by clothing is considered concealment).
If a sheath for knuckle dusters must be more clearly visible than what’s visible at the belt, what if they were stitched to some external part of one’s coat or jacket? Such as atop the shoulders or along the sleeves? To access them, one would have to grip them and rip the thread holding them in place. And, while it may not be haute couture, the question is: Would they be carried in accordance with federal and Georgia state law?
I see many pieces of jewelry which include a knuckle duster or part of one in their design. It’s frequently connected by chain links that are much weaker than the rest of the piece of jewelry, which would make it easier to snap off and employ the knuckle duster should it be needed. This gave me the impression that knuckle dusters, if not something that can be sheathed at the belt in plain sight, might be allowable on the exterior of one’s clothing, what with jewelry getting away with it.
Any clarification of this matter would be appreciated. I mean, I have leather gloves for the winter that I made gauntlets to fit over by using brass rings to make a tight chainmail overlay. Then I used brass cartridge casings to make stacks of brass plating that are stitched into the ringmail over the back of the hand and fingers. They overlap in such a fashion that gravity keeps them flat, and balling a fist causes them to flare out and expose the (entirely unintentionally) jagged edges of brass plates. Then the whole affair was coated with the same gloss black that the gloves were initially. So, I quite literally wear brass knuckles in the wintertime, and local law enforcement loves it since gloves are meant to be worn and outside their notion of brandishment.
They do, however, look extremely out of place 9 months of the year.
As a follow-up, what about knives modeled after WWII trench knives, which had knuckle dusters for a grip? Many such knives can be found that fold, meaning they can fit in a pocket. For legal purposes, is it considered a knife or brass knuckles?
John, thank you for your comments and great questions. Are you a U.S. LawShield Member? Our members have access to a non-emergency line where they can ask their local program attorneys these types of questions. Please call 1-877-448-6839 and speak to a program attorney in Georgia about your concerns.
While I know I am quite uneducated when it comes to weapons laws in my state, I am uncertain as to what category a blunt martial arts-type weapon would fall under. If anyone would like to educate me on this it would be greatly appreciated.
Is a Byrna pistol legal to open/conceal carry without a permit in GA? Any pointer will be appreciated. Thanks!
I also would like to know if a Byrna CO2 pistol with kinetic pellets is legal to use as a non-lethal weapon