Opinion: Gadzooks! A reasonable, bipartisan gun bill in Georgia

I came across a unicorn under the Gold Dome this week: A gun bill that has bipartisan support and strengthens both gun rights and public safety.

Senate Bill 99 is largely the same as a bill that passed last year, only to be tacked onto an omnibus gun bill that Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed because of other parts of the bill (this was a separate bill from the campus-carry bill). The current version of the bill is a joint effort by Democrat Elena Parent of Atlanta and Republican Tyler Harper of Ocilla, and it addresses when a person who has been involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness or substance-abuse can have their right to purchase firearms restored. The Senate Public Safety Committee approved it unanimously Monday afternoon.

Gavel

Federal law requires states to report such hospitalizations to the FBI for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, rendering the hospitalized persons ineligible to purchase firearms. Under current state law, that information is automatically expunged five years — no more, but also no less — after the hospitalization.

SB 99 would change that in two ways, and we need to get into the weeds a bit to understand how. First, it would afford the person in question an opportunity to petition the court that committed him to have the information about his hospitalization expunged from the background check system, as soon as when the hospitalization ends. If the court, having considered a variety of factors and testimony outlined in the bill, determines it is more likely than not that the person poses no danger to himself or others, the records will be expunged. If not, the person must wait at least 12 months before submitting a new petition.

At the end of five years, a person who hasn’t had his information expunged will not have it removed automatically. Instead, 30 days before the five-year mark, the court will have to decide whether to let the information be expunged or to hold a hearing on the matter. If it holds a hearing, the court must find it is highly probable (a higher standard of proof known as “clear and convincing” evidence) that the person poses a threat to himself or others in order to keep the information about his hospitalization in the database. Otherwise, it’s expunged.

Now let’s take a step back. A history of mental illness is a factor common to many mass shootings in this country. If we’re going to restrict gun rights to address that, we ought to focus on people who have such a history. This bill won’t address all such people — many people are treated for mental illnesses without being involuntarily hospitalized — but it’s a reasonable refinement of both ends of the process for those it does touch.

Those whose problems have been successfully addressed need not be penalized for longer than is necessary. But those whose problems remain shouldn’t have their penalties ended sooner than is justifiable. A bill that improves matters on both counts is a good bill.

Sometimes, bipartisan bills make it through the legislative process because they represent the worst instincts of Republicans and Democrats. This is one of those occasions when it represents the best of both sides.

Reader Comments 0

21 comments
Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

  A history of mental illness is a factor common to many mass shootings in this country.


But only if they are white. If not we call it terrorism. 


Dylan Bundy = Mentally Ill


Boston Bombers = Terrorists

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Great speech. Trump took charge and is setting the pace. It will be hard for Democrats to dismiss the agenda he's laid out for the country.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

That was history being made, he is serious about national unity, but the democrats sat on their hands, looked at their watches when the subject of the destruction of isis was brought up.


Drop your hate of America and get on board with the inevitable.

HIbought theRefs
HIbought theRefs

@AndyManUSA#45 Obviously you've listened to what, one presidential address to a Joint Session? Because it was one of the worst in terms of rhetoric, speech delivery - and I'm not even talking about content.  But the bar was so low - practically in negative numbers - that all Trump had to do was to not pick his nose and his speech would be cheered.  Not impressed.Sad! 

dhowardporter
dhowardporter

The problem is, most of the mentally ill people involved in mass shootings did not have a history of mental problems...until they committed the crime...then and only then, as far as I know, did mental health professionals look back and connect the dots to determine that the person met the definition of someone who is mentally ill.  It is the mother-of-all Catch 22 situations. If you think you're crazy...then you must be sane. If you think you're sane, you must be crazy.  Come on Kyle, we can do better than this!

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Sounds like a reasonable solution.

The problem with those who suffer from mental illness is that many don't want to take the stabilizing meds necessary. If they go off their meds, they become a threat to themselves and others.

As bad as it sounds, I've often wondered why they can't be implanted with a device that releases the meds on schedule. 

Starik
Starik

@FIGMO2 Sometimes the correct meds don't work, or haven't been invented yet.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

RUSH: There’s a story that’s not gonna be getting a whole lot of coverage out there, but we are gonna zero in on it. The audio recording of a local news radio station in Louisiana uncovered/features protests at a town hall with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy on Friday, and in the tape you can hear these activists from Indivisible. That is Obama’s group. This is what Trump is talking about: Indivisible is part of the Organizing for Action group that Obama established to replace Organizing for America, which is the group that he used to rabble-rouse and community-organize while he was president.


The Dim State.


Fact.


MAGA



AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Who could possibly disagree? We've all seen the wave of Trump Derangement Syndrome sweeping across our country and the bused in soros loons screaming at Congressman they didn't even vote for, we need to keep firearms out of these crazies hands. 


And it's also pretty easy to test and see if they've gotten well, just say "Kellyanne Conway" and if they don't foam up, give them their guns back.

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@AndyManUSA#45

I think you left off an apostrophe. I could point it out but you'll learn more if you find it yourself.

Separately, how's Obama's shadow government doing? Still kicking Agent Orange's butt, or are the fascists making headway in their bid to finally wrest control of the US government from the Great Black One?

DavidATL45
DavidATL45

You just spread fake news irresponsibly

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

Where's Andy?


Compromising with those seeking to destroy 'Merica makes one a traitor. 

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

At least this is based on common sense and not just a good guy with a gun beats a bad guy with a gun.

Pub Heaven
Pub Heaven

Unicorn indeed.

Size very small.

But still...