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Georgia’s hate and gun laws have significant gaps that allow people to keep and access firearms, including assault weapons, after they have been convicted of violent hate crimes.

Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Georgia
Violence with Severe Bodily InjuryViolence with Bodily InjuryOther Crimes Involving Intentional Use of ForceThreats with Deadly Weapons
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
u003cstrongu003eFederal Lawu003c/strongu003eSome accessSignificant accessSignificant accessSome access
Some access
u003cstrongu003eState Lawu003c/strongu003eVery limited or no accessVery limited or no accessSome accessSome access
Some access

Prior to July 2020, Georgia had no hate crime law at all and, relatedly, had some of the weakest laws in the nation to disarm people who perpetrate hate-motivated violence. In 2020, Georgia legislators enacted a new hate crime law prescribing modestly extended sentences for felonies and certain misdemeanors, if it is proven the perpetrator intentionally selected the victim based on their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or mental or physical disability.1

This new law makes certain hate crime misdemeanors, including violent assault and battery offenses, punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment—a term long enough to trigger Georgia’s law prohibiting firearm access by people convicted of crimes punishable by “one year or more.”2 These convictions do not trigger federal firearm restrictions, however, which apply to people convicted of felonies punishable by a term of more than one year.3

People convicted of hate-motivated felonies punishable by more than one year are generally prohibited from accessing guns under both Georgia and federal law. This prohibition only covers the most severely violent crimes in Georgia: crimes involving severe disfigurement, certain acts or threats with deadly weapons likely to result in death or serious injury, or credible death threats made for the purpose of “terrorizing another person.”4 As described above, people convicted of violent hate crime assault and battery misdemeanors, including intentionally causing substantial physical injury to a victim, are now prohibited from accessing guns under Georgia but not federal law.5

However, people convicted of other violent hate-motivated misdemeanors in Georgia generally remain eligible to access guns under state and federal law, including crimes involving credible threats to commit violence short of death, intentionally aiming a gun at a victim, and stalking or violent conduct that places a victim in reasonable fear for their safety.6


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  1. Ga. Code Ann. § 17-10-17 (enacted by 2020 Ga. H.B. 426). (The “Designated misdemeanors” covered by Georgia’s hate crime sentencing law include only the following offenses: simple assault, simple battery, battery, criminal trespass, and theft by taking).[]
  2. Georgia law generally defines felonies as crimes punishable by a term of more than one year but, for the purposes of the state’s firearm restrictions, Georgia law uses a slightly broader definition of “felony” encompassing any crime punishable by “one year or more.” Therefore, though Georgia generally makes misdemeanors punishable by a maximum of 12 months imprisonment, people convicted of misdemeanors punishable by 12 months are subject to the state’s felony firearm restrictions. Ga. Code Ann. §§ 16-1-3(5); 16-11-131(a); 17-10-4.[]
  3. Federal law generally prohibits people from accessing guns only if they have been convicted of a felony punishable by more than one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years. 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(B).[]
  4. See, e.g., Ga. Code Ann. §§ 16-5-24 (“Aggravated battery”); 16-5-21 (“Aggravated assault”); 16-11-37(d)(1) (“Terroristic threats” of death).[]
  5. Ga. Code Ann. §§ 17-10-17; 16-5-23.1.[]
  6.  Ga. Code Ann. §§ 16-11-37(b)(a)(A), (d)(1) (misdemeanor “Terroristic threats”); 16-11-39.1(a)(2) (“Harassing communications” threatening violence); 16-11-39(a)(1) (violent disorderly conduct); 16-11-102 (Pointing or aiming gun at another); 16-5-90 (“Stalking”).[]