Lawmakers in Georgia are deciding whether or not to tighten the current gun laws in the state, according to a news report issued by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Under a law that has been on Georgia’s books for a long time, the records of thousands of Georgians who had been involuntarily committed for mental health services have been removed from a national database. This national database is used by gun dealers to run background checks of individuals purchasing weapons. In fact, it is the only tool that gun dealers have to confirm whether or not someone is allowed to purchase a gun.
National Database Requirements
Every state in the nation is mandated to provide names to the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NIBCS) of individuals who have been involuntarily hospitalized. These include involuntary hospitalizations for treatment relating to mental health issues, drugs, or alcohol treatment. All licensed gun dealers must check this list of names prior to making a gun sale. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution report, Georgia stands alone in the nation as the only state that removes the names from the FBI’s NIBCS after five years. Once the names are removed, there is no requirement to conduct a new mental health assessment of these individuals. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that the state of Georgia has purged more than 2,000 names from the FBI’s NIBCS since 2013.
Last year, Senate Bill 99 (SB99) was presented before the legislature to eliminate the state mandate to purge the FBI’s NIBCS database after five years. While Georgia’s Senate passed the bill, the House did not. While SB99 will not likely affect gun sales much, it does follow with national pressure from the public to tighten gun control laws. Proponents of SB99 feel its an attempt to close a loophole in the law, particularly because much of the national gun debate has focused on how the mentally ill have access to firearms. Indeed, deletion of the names at the state level does not change any prohibitions for these individuals to be able to purchase and possess a firearm under federal law. SB99 would allow those names to stay on the FBI’s NIBCS indefinitely. The new law would line Georgia up with federal law already in place.
Shift in Georgia Gun Laws
Gun control advocates on both sides of the issue are pushing for changes in Georgia gun laws. Three separate proposals would make it legal for individuals to carry firearms without a permit into recreational areas and parks. There are also a pair of bills aiming to mandate proof of firearms safety training in order for an individual to receive a weapons carry license as presently Georgia does not require any training. Another measure seeks to ban those convicted of domestic violence charges from owning guns and mandating those who already have guns to give them up. There is also a proposed state-level ban on bump-stocks.
If you have questions about Georgia’s gun laws, contact a knowledgeable attorney so you know your rights and obligations under current law.