All five face a charge of possession of a firearm on school property, said Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Glen Rahn.
Julia Porter-Stein, the director of the county school board's public safety department, said a classmate tipped off a school police officer, who then found the .357-caliber Magnum in a pupil's book bag. Two rounds were also found.
The investigation was turned over to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, she said, and interviews were being conducted.
Investigator Rahn said one of the five pupils charged, a 12-year-old, brought the weapon to school and passed it around to four others.
Based on a preliminary investigation, sheriff's Sgt. Calvin Chew said authorities don't believe there was any intent to use the weapon.
"I don't believe they were going to shoot anybody. I think they brought it to show around," Sgt. Chew said.
Three of those charged are 12, and the others are 13, Investigator Rahn said. The pupils were taken to the Richmond County jail for processing and released to their parents. He said all face expulsion for the rest of the school year if found guilty by a school tribunal.
Investigator Rahn said authorities believe the gun belonged to a pupil's grandfather, but authorities will research who bought the gun. He said the grandfather won't face charges.
This wasn't the first time a gun has been brought onto a Richmond County school this year. In February, four students at Josey High School were disciplined for their roles in selling a .32-caliber revolver on campus for $15 a month earlier.
Staff Writers Adam Folk and Greg Gelpi contributed to this article.
Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217, or firstname.lastname@example.org.