The Georgia General Assembly will convene for their fourth week of official business this week and the number of bills filed in both the House and the Senate now totals over 400 pieces of legislation. Among them are a handful of gun bills.
House Bill 310 – The Gun Safety Act
Sponsored by Reps. Matthew Wilson, Scott Holcomb, Shelly Hutchinson, Josh McLaurin, Shea Roberts, and Spencer Frye.
This bill creates a new code section – OCGA 16-11-174 – to prohibit any person who is not a firearms dealer to sell, exhibit, transfer, or exchange a firearm to another person who is not licensed. It would also require all persons attempting to purchase a firearm at a gun show to be subject to a background check.
In order to further define the prohibited transactions, the measure defines ‘gun show’ as an “event where 25 or more firearms are offered or exhibited for sale, transfer, or exchange” and then ‘gun show vendor’ as a person who sells, exhibits, etc. one or more firearms at a gun show “regardless of whether or not the person arranges with the gun show promoter for a fixed location from which to offer for sale, exhibit, sell, transfer, or exchange one or more firearms.”
House Bill 309 – The Georgia Red Flag Protective Order Act
Sponsored by Reps. Matthew Wilson, Angelika Kausche, Mesha Mainor, Spencer Frye, Shelly Hutchinson, and Josh McLaurin.
This bill creates a new code section – OCGA 16-11-142 – to establish protocols for Risk Protection Orders, which are temporary ex parte (meaning one party is absent) and final orders pertaining to firearms. These orders, which would allow the removal of firearms from the possession of an otherwise lawful owner, could be filed in court by any family member, household member, or a law enforcement officer.
‘A family’ or ‘household’ is defined in the bill as spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.
**With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same dwelling house.
After a petition is filed, within 14 days, the court would be required to hold a hearing, at which time the person against whom the petition is filed would appear in court. Judges, in the meantime, would be permitted to issue temporary hearings without a person having a chance to offer a defense in the civil matter.
The order could be issued based on:
- An act of violence,
- Violation of protective order,
- Violation of another Risk Protection Order,
- Evidence of mental illness or recurring mental health issues,
- A guilty plea or a nolo contendere plea for family violence,
- The lawful use or brandishing of a weapon,
- Threats of violence against themselves or others;
- Corroborated evidence of substance abuse;
- Evidence of acquisition of guns or ammunition;
- Relevant information from family and friends
It would also require any person filing for a petition to notify any family members who may also be at risk for violence and the bill mandates that Risk Protection Orders include referrals to appropriate resources, including mental health, domestic violence, and counseling resources.
Specifically, any order signed by a judge may be signed into effect for up to 12 months but would have to include:
- The name and address of the person the order applies to;
- Allegations that the person poses a ‘significant danger’ to themselves or others by having a firearm or any ammunition in custody or control, or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or any ammunition;
- An affidavit made under oath with specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to the reasonable fear of significant dangerous acts by the person named in the order;
- Identified quantities, types, and locations of all firearms and ammunition the petition believes to be in the possession of the person named in the order;
- Any information on any known protective orders on the person under OCGA 16-5-94 or 19-13-4.
Judges would be permitted to order a mental health evaluation or chemical dependency evaluation if it is deemed necessary, and notice would be served about the ability to petition for an order to be vacated in some circumstances.
Additionally, the court would be barred from charging a processing or filing fee for the petition.
House Bill 296 – To require training in order to lawfully carry a firearm
Sponsored by Rep. Pedro Marin.
This measure would require a person to demonstrate that they have completed a firearms safety course within the last three years when applying for a Weapons Carry Permit. Exceptions would apply for peace officers, firearms instructors, and active duty military. The bill would take effect on January 1, 2022
House Bill 281 – Pertains to the renewal of Weapons Carry Licenses in Georgia
Sponsored by Reps. James Burchett, John Corbett, Jesse Petrea, John LaHood, Jason Ridley and Greg Morris.
This bill would require probate judges to issue renewal notices to weapons carry license holders with instructions and deadlines between 30 and 90 days before a person’s permit expires. The renewal notices could be sent electronically or via US mail to the address used to apply for the license.