There is a loophole in Georgia law that both Democrats and Republicans agree weakens the way background checks for guns should work. This is the third year in a row a measure to fix the problem died in the state legislative session.
If someone has been committed to mental health treatment – as in, against their will – under federal law, they lose their 2nd Amendment right to own a gun.
Last year alone, the GBI sent a list of close to 3,000 Georgians for whom this is the case to the federal background check system.
Also last year, because of a quirk of Georgia law, the GBI had to delete about 200 people from that same list. The state keeps track of these people for only five years before they are purged from the list. Georgia is the only state in the country that does this.
Democratic state Sen. Elena Parent has tried for three years to change the law.
“Well a lot of bills just kinda don’t make it if they’re not made a priority,” said Parent.
Republican state Rep. and majority whip Christian Coomer also tried to push a version of this bill. It failed as well.
Parent said she has not heard from anyone who opposes this change. Law enforcement, and even staunch gun rights advocates like Jerry Henry with Georgia Carry want it.
“We do not have a problem with stopping the purging of those records automatically after five years,” Henry said. “And the reason we don’t is that we’re just like anybody else. We don’t want crazy people walking around with guns.”
Parent said she’ll try again next year.
“This really, I think, came down to – no one was spending their time on it,” she said.
According to the GBI, over the past five years, more than 2,000 Georgians who should be permanently prohibited from owning guns, had their names removed from the federal background check system.
If the current trend continues, a few hundred more will become untraceable this year.