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Georgia Gun Bill Narrows Focus On Domestic Violence

A pre-filed bill was revised to apply only to restrict Georgians with a petition or protective order against them from buying guns while they are filing for divorce.
A pre-filed bill was revised to apply only to restrict Georgians with a petition or protective order against them from buying guns while they are filing for divorce.
Credit Seth Wenig / Associated Press
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A Cobb County lawmaker has modified his bill that would prevent Georgians going through a divorce from buying guns.

Marietta state Senator Michael Rhett pre-filed a bill last week trying to stop anyone filing for divorce from buying a gun without their divorce judge’s permission.

His new version applies only to people with protective orders or petition for relief from family violence filed against them in divorce proceedings.

Rhett said that after he heard from the public, he decided to make it more narrow.

“We needed to be more practical with it so that people wouldn’t think it’s just a gun bill,” Rhett said. “It’s a domestic violence bill. If they already have a weapon, we’re not taking their weapon away. But if they have a proclivity towards domestic violence, we just want to have a cooling-off period.”

Judges would be asked to consider evidence that the individual is not mentally unstable and would not act in a dangerous manner. This could include a “court ordered psychological evaluation.”

“When they look at this new bill that I pre-filed, most people will agree, if someone is certified as mentally unbalanced, I don’t think we really want them to have access to any weapon,” Rhett said. “We want to get them help also.”

Rhett, who has worked with domestic violence victims at the City of Refuge in Atlanta, said his main goal is to bring attention to domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is in many cases a secret that your next-door neighbor doesn’t want you to know about until it’s too late and often people don’t know where to turn to, to seek relief,” Rhett said.

He said he was inspired to pre-file the bill after Fulton County prosecutor April Ross was shot six times by her estranged husband last year.