Open carry on Georgia Appalachian Trail?


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The_Next_Generation
February 18, 2013, 02:28 AM
Hey all,

So I have a trip planned on the good 'ol Appalachian Trail and I wanted to carry my levergun for protection (I'm not old enough for a GWL yet). The NPS website says:

As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park. It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park.

Then the Georgia Code 16-11-126b says:

O.C.G.A. 16-11-126
Having or carrying handguns, long guns, or other weapons; license requirement; exceptions for homes, motor vehicles, and other locations and conditions; penalties for violations
...
(b) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a long gun without a valid weapons carry license, provided that if the long gun is loaded, it shall only be carried in an open and fully exposed manner.

Now, when I called the parks office near the trailhead, the officer on duty was absolutely sure that I could not legally open-carry my rifle because of 'poachers' and because 'it wouldn't be concealed'. In fact, the officer even went so far as to recommend me ILLEGALLY concealing a handgun for 'personal protection' because he would 'let me go on my way' if he were to become aware of my under-aged, unlicensed carrying shenanigans. He also noted that firearms weren't allowed on the trail 'unless they were for personal protection such as a handgun'.:banghead:

When I read the law, it seems that I should be allowed to carry just fine. What say ya'll?

By the way, if any of you are wondering why I would ever want to lug around a hefty rifle on a backpacking trip, here are a few reasons:

1) I sleep better when I have my rifle
2) I sleep better when I have my rifle
3) Good defensive tool
:D

- TNG

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rhinoh
February 18, 2013, 06:30 AM
What are Georgia hunting laws? Some places toting a long arm around can be construed as illegal hunting....

mdauben
February 18, 2013, 04:25 PM
Be aware when researching relevant laws that the AT is *not* a national park. Over the length of the trail it runs through several national parks, many state parks and lots of private land. The rules for carrying are likely to change every time ownership of the land does.

ilbob
February 18, 2013, 07:29 PM
What do you want protection from? the other hikers?

By all accounts from hikers who actually use the trail, there just is not much trouble, and the extra weight is going to be a major drag.

mbopp
February 18, 2013, 07:31 PM
Yeah, serious AT hikers cut the borders off their maps and drill holes in their toothbrush to cut weight.

ilbob
February 18, 2013, 07:37 PM
Yeah, serious AT hikers cut the borders off their maps and drill holes in their toothbrush to cut weight.
people think you are kidding. serious hikers are trying for the sub ten pound load out. does not count food and water.

they seem to be gravitating toward canvas shoes even over real boots to cut weight.

some of it seems dangerous to me given they are likely to get into some kind of situation where they might need that heavier jacket and not have it. or a spare pair of underwear.

Ed N.
February 18, 2013, 10:10 PM
What do you want protection from? the other hikers?

By all accounts from hikers who actually use the trail, there just is not much trouble, and the extra weight is going to be a major drag.

Really?!
http://www.wral.com/news/national_world/national/story/2268397/

"A 24-year-old hiker who grew up in Wake County was beaten to death and then decapitated in the mountains of north Georgia, authorities said Tuesday.

A drifter charged with kidnapping Meredith Emerson led authorities to her body Monday, investigators said, hours after a judge denied him bond in her New Year's Day disappearance."


That was in Vogel State Park. The AT runs through the park.

In the same story,

"Authorities said they are exploring whether the disappearance of a couple in North Carolina is related to that of Emerson. John and Irene Bryant, both in their 80s, had gone hiking in the western North Carolina mountains in October.

Irene Bryant's body was found in November; authorities say she was killed with a blow to the head. Her husband remains missing but is presumed to have been killed."


I visit that area once or twice every year. It's a beautiful place, but bad things sometimes happen there. It would seem prudent to be armed.

Art Eatman
February 18, 2013, 10:43 PM
I'm looking at the Handgunlaw.us ad as I write this. :)

16-11-126. Possession and Carrying a Concealed Weapon; Penalty for Violating Licensing Requirement

(a) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a weapon or long gun on his or her property or inside his or her home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid weapons carry license.

(b) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a long gun without a valid weapons carry license, provided that if the long gun is loaded, it shall only be carried in an open and fully exposed manner.

(c) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry any handgun provided that it is enclosed in a case and unloaded.

And,

Carry Allowed in these Areas:
State Parks: YES O.C.G.A. 16-11-127
State/National Forests: YES O.C.G.A. 16-11-127
WMA’s: YES O.C.G.A. 16-11-127
Road Side Rest Areas: YES O.C.G.A. 16-11-127

From the above, it looks as though an unloaded semi-auto pistol in a fanny pack, with the magazine in one's pocket, would be legal. But IANAL.

The_Next_Generation
February 19, 2013, 04:55 PM
Looks like I'll be calling the LEO up there again and see what he says with this new information.

Also, I don't see why ya'll think the extra weight is "going to be a major drag". Seriously? If it means I'm going to sleep soundly and be able to adequately defend myself its totally worth the extra 6 or 7 pounds. I've done lots of backpacking with firearms and I don't see why everyone gets their feathers so ruffled over weight. Makes you stronger anyways ;)

-TNG

PavePusher
February 19, 2013, 09:29 PM
One of these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkYP0QjL3Dk in a caliber you prefer. Save weight, easy draw from a scabbard on the side of your pack.

YMMV.

AlaskaMan
February 19, 2013, 09:31 PM
There are 76 miles of Appalachian Trail in Georgia. 100% of those miles are in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Not sure why you're contacting the National Park Service as they don't have any part of the AT in Georgia.

Hopefully this would help...

http://www.georgia-atclub.org/

Have a good hike!

The_Next_Generation
February 20, 2013, 02:22 AM
You are right AlaskaMan, and I have been contacting the Chattahoochee ranger district office. I meant to use the NPS info as a starting point, sorry for the miss-communication.

And as much as I would LOVE one of those little mare's legs, I neither have the cash nor the necessary permit to OC one of those :(

Alaska444
February 20, 2013, 02:31 AM
Really?!
http://www.wral.com/news/national_world/national/story/2268397/

"A 24-year-old hiker who grew up in Wake County was beaten to death and then decapitated in the mountains of north Georgia, authorities said Tuesday.

A drifter charged with kidnapping Meredith Emerson led authorities to her body Monday, investigators said, hours after a judge denied him bond in her New Year's Day disappearance."


That was in Vogel State Park. The AT runs through the park.

In the same story,

"Authorities said they are exploring whether the disappearance of a couple in North Carolina is related to that of Emerson. John and Irene Bryant, both in their 80s, had gone hiking in the western North Carolina mountains in October.

Irene Bryant's body was found in November; authorities say she was killed with a blow to the head. Her husband remains missing but is presumed to have been killed."


I visit that area once or twice every year. It's a beautiful place, but bad things sometimes happen there. It would seem prudent to be armed.
+1, I was going to post a similar account. There is no longer ANY place you can state is categorically "safe" any longer. Carry, but do so legally.

Alaska444
February 20, 2013, 02:33 AM
There are 76 miles of Appalachian Trail in Georgia. 100% of those miles are in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Not sure why you're contacting the National Park Service as they don't have any part of the AT in Georgia.

Hopefully this would help...

http://www.georgia-atclub.org/

Have a good hike!
If it is national forest, shouldn't any weapon be legal? Even in CA of all places, you can carry in the national forest lands.

Alaska444
February 20, 2013, 03:03 AM
You are right AlaskaMan, and I have been contacting the Chattahoochee ranger district office. I meant to use the NPS info as a starting point, sorry for the miss-communication.

And as much as I would LOVE one of those little mare's legs, I neither have the cash nor the necessary permit to OC one of those :(
If it is all National Forest lands, hunting some small game is open all year. Squirrels are from August 15 to Feb 28. As long as it is legal to hunt in the areas of the AT that you will be going, simply stating you are feral hog hunting with a valid license may be the ticket to answering your question.

According to the GA hunting regulations:

Coyotes, armadillos, groundhogs, Beavers, starlings, pigEons & EnglisH sparrows
No closed season. No limit. Electronic calls may be used for hunting coyotes.

http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/11GAHD_LR1.pdf

There is also the feral hog season as well.

The only issue is to make sure you are not in a wildlife game management zone.

National Forest & corps of
Engineers lands (outside of wmas)
Hogs may be taken with archery equip-
ment during archery deer season, with deer
weapons during firearms deer season,
turkey weapons during turkey season and
with small game weapons during small game
season.

Alaska444
February 20, 2013, 03:25 AM
Looks like the AT goes through the Lake Burton WMA.

http://www.southeasternoutdoors.com/outdoors/hunting/wma/lake-burton/images/lake-burton-cir.pdf

With the feral hogs, you may be able to "hunt" in the Lake Burton area as well. You will need to check with the Wildlife Resources Division (770-535-5700)

http://archive.gainesvilletimes.com/news/stories/20070202/outdoors/153730.shtml

The_Next_Generation
March 4, 2013, 04:21 PM
Update!

So I called the law enforcement folks at the Chattahoochee Nation Forest office and talked with them about the laws regarding carry on the AT.

It turns out that a large portion of the Georgia AT runs through the Blue Ridge WMA. Because of this, WMA rules apply. Which is too bad because in the WMA Reg. book it says under unlawful activities:

Possessing a firearm during a closed hunting
season for an area, except on designated
shooting ranges, unless such a firearm is
unloaded and stored in a motor vehicle so
as to not be readily accessible, except that
any person possessing a license to carry a
concealed firearm that is valid in this state
pursuant to OCGA 16-11-126(f) or 16-11-129
may carry such firearm subject to the limitations of OCGA 16-11-126 and 16-11-127, except where prohibited by federal law.


Now, 16-11-126(f) provides an exception for those who are in that act of hunting during a current season, which makes sense, then it gets confusing.The officer claims that because the WMA rules say "pursuant to 16-11-126(f)" and "may carry such firearm subject to the limitations of OCGA 16-11-126 " that the exception under 16-11-126(b) DOES NOT APPLY on WMA land. Is this because the WMA verbage uses "limitiations" and not something like, "limitations and/or exceptions provided by 16-11-126"? How could only the limitations of the code be applicable without also applying the exceptions?



Link to WMA regs: http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/12GAHD_LR.pdf

Link to GA code: http://www.georgiapacking.org/GaCode/?title=16&chapter=11&section=126


Thanks for the help (and yeah, I know ya'll ain't lawyers ;) )
- TNG

Warp
March 4, 2013, 05:15 PM
Update!

So I called the law enforcement folks at the Chattahoochee Nation Forest office and talked with them about the laws regarding carry on the AT.

It turns out that a large portion of the Georgia AT runs through the Blue Ridge WMA. Because of this, WMA rules apply. Which is too bad because in the WMA Reg. book it says under unlawful activities:

Possessing a firearm during a closed hunting
season for an area, except on designated
shooting ranges, unless such a firearm is
unloaded and stored in a motor vehicle so
as to not be readily accessible, except that
any person possessing a license to carry a
concealed firearm that is valid in this state
pursuant to OCGA 16-11-126(f) or 16-11-129
may carry such firearm subject to the limitations of OCGA 16-11-126 and 16-11-127, except where prohibited by federal law.


Now, 16-11-126(f) provides an exception for those who are in that act of hunting during a current season, which makes sense, then it gets confusing.The officer claims that because the WMA rules say "pursuant to 16-11-126(f)" and "may carry such firearm subject to the limitations of OCGA 16-11-126 " that the exception under 16-11-126(b) DOES NOT APPLY on WMA land. Is this because the WMA verbage uses "limitiations" and not something like, "limitations and/or exceptions provided by 16-11-126"? How could only the limitations of the code be applicable without also applying the exceptions?



Link to WMA regs: http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/12GAHD_LR.pdf

Link to GA code: http://www.georgiapacking.org/GaCode/?title=16&chapter=11&section=126


Thanks for the help (and yeah, I know ya'll ain't lawyers ;) )
- TNG

That is interesting wording. Georgia does not issue and, to my knowledge, has never issued licenses for "concealed" carry. We issued "Georgia Firearms License", and then "Georgia Weapon License", and now issue a "Georgia Weapon Carry License". No need to conceal when carrying with one of these licenses.

jmr40
March 4, 2013, 05:24 PM
A few years ago it would have been illegal on WMA's and state park property. But a new law went into effect a few years ago. If you have a carry permit you are good on the AT anywhere in GA.

You still cannot carry them inside state or federal owned buildings in state parks ,but on the trail, yes.

On page 38 of this years hunting regs it gives a list of unlawful activities on WMA. It say in part.

"Possessing a fire arm during a closed hunting season...unless such firearm is unloaded and stored in a motor vehicle...except that a person possessing a license to carry that is valid in this state may carry such firearm."

That law was changed shortly after the Merideth Emerson case.

The_Next_Generation
March 4, 2013, 05:31 PM
Sorry if I didn't make this clear yet, but I do not have nor am I able to obtain a GWL due to my age. The reason I started this thread was so that I could figure out whether or not it is legal for me to openly carry a long-arm on the Georgia AT w/o a GWL.

The_Next_Generation
March 4, 2013, 06:58 PM
Very true, 2 years isn't much time in the grand scheme o' things. However, it still irks me that the law disarms me, a perfectly responsible engineering student, and makes me less-able to defend myself and my group if I need to... :rolleyes:

But what else is new?? :banghead:

AlbertH
March 4, 2013, 07:26 PM
http://www.georgiapacking.org/law.php


B.If you are not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm you may carry a long gun without needing a valid weapons carry license. However if it is loaded, you must carry the long gun in an open and fully exposed manner. Is it legal to carry where in all the areas you will be traveling.

E. If you have a valid hunting or fishing license or do not legally have to have one, you can carry a handgun or long gun while you are actively engaged in hunting, fishing or sport shooting with permission from the owner of the land you are on. Will you be actively engaged in hunting.


Carry a cross bow

jmr40
March 4, 2013, 08:10 PM
On the parts of the AT on National Forest land anyone who is otherwise legal to carry a gun can, open or concealed if permitted. The only hangup is that some wildlife management areas in N Ga. are on NF land. Regs there are a bit different. Unless you are legally hunting there, or have a fireams license you cannot carry a gun. Until the Emerson case it was illegal to carry there outside of hunting even with a license.

Ga has a few strange restrictions, but things are getting much better. The Emerson girl could not have legally carried when kidnapped and murdered because the section of trail she was hiking on cut through a corner of Vogel State Park and the rest was part of a Wildlife Management area. If she'd had a valid hunting license, and a valid WMA stamp on her license, and if she had gone by the check station and signed in as a hunter, she could have carried a shotgun or 22 rifle that was legal for small game which was in season at the time. She could not have had a centerfire handgun, which is not a legal small game firearm. Had it been summer, and no hunting season in progress only a muzzle loader would have been legal. And even then she would have had to bushwack around the part of the trail that ran through the state park.

I have no idea whether she would have been the type to carry or not even if legal. But there was a lot of pressure put on GA lawmakers after this and the laws were changed quickly. A few other things were better defined at the same time. Too bad it took a murder to get things happening.

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