Fancier gun permits will cost probate court more

Soon, gun permits will include a picture, electronic signature and black light border among other things / Ashley Knight

Just like everyone else, the Probate Court here in Dougherty County is cutting back.

"We have cut out all training and travel except what's mandated by the state. We've cut back in terms of the hours we do things," says Judge Nancy Stephenson.

But with a recent change in the way gun permits are processed, they'll be spending- big time. As of January first, 2012, gun permits will have a holograph, black light border, picture id and electronic signature. The probate court simply doesn't have that equipment handy.

"A laptop computer that's dedicated just to that, a particular backdrop, it involves an electronic signature pad, a camera."

Averaging around $3,000. They'll start off just getting the minimum amount of equipment. And you can expect a long wait--last year, the probate court issued 1,400 gun permits.

"You can't just cut the court budget by a certain percentage and expect to get the same service. The demand for the government services doesn't go down in a court like it does in a business," adds Stephenson.

And personally, Judge Stephenson doesn't think the changes will solve the big picture issue.

"It really doesn't solve the overall problem of illegal guns on the streets because people who go to the trouble to have a permit aren't the ones that are the problem."

Philip Colson, a card carrying gun owner, likes the changes, saying the ones now are too easy to duplicate.

"The current firearms license for the state of Georgia is simply a locally produced form on plain paper with some taping put on it by the magistrate's office," says Colson.

And while gun owners believe there should be a certain level of security, Colson believes the local courts shouldn't be obligated to buy the new equipment.

"They have an agency or company in Atlanta that's currently making driver's licenses. They can do exactly the same thing with the firearm's license."

The cost of a permit just went up last year to $70, but that money will go to the state instead of the county like before.