State Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, confers with others on the floor of the Georgia House. He’s the author of House Bill 657, which would make it illegal for a person to “knowingly and intentionally” provide a firearm to someone convicted of a felony. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Bill to keep guns out of felons’ hands advances in Georgia House

A bill aiming to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons received initial approval Monday in the state House.

State Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, said the proposal would expand on the federal law that makes it illegal for someone to buy a gun for someone he or she knows is not legally allowed to have firearms.

Petrea said when convicted felons aren’t getting access to the guns by stealing them, they are receiving the weapons as gifts from a friend or family member.

Convicted felons are not legally allowed to possess firearms.

“A lot of times a lot of folks are interested in passing gun laws that only impact law-abiding citizens,” Petrea said. “This is about girlfriends going and giving guns to their boyfriends.”

The House Public Safety Committee approved the measure 6-4. Opponents said they were worried about unintended consequences, such as a family member not realizing a relative had been convicted of a felony.

“There are some folks who don’t know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony,” said state Rep. Mike Glanton, D-Jonesboro.

If House Bill 657 becomes law, a person guilty of “knowingly and intentionally” providing a firearm to someone who is a felon will face between one and five years in prison. The proposal would not require the person providing the gun to run a background check, but, if charges are filed, a prosecutor would have to prove that person knew he or she was giving a firearm to a felon.

The February 2nd, 2018 edition of Georgia Legislative Week in Review with Mark Neisse, Maya T. Prabhu and the Phrase of the Week by James Salzer. Video by Bob Andres /

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