2/28/18 - Atlanta -House members vote on one of many bills considered on Crossover Day. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Georgia House approves bill to keep guns from mentally ill

A bill that passed the Georgia House aims to extend the time that those with mental illnesses can’t own guns.

Representatives voted 161-4 to approve House Bill 999 early Thursday morning. 

The legislation ends a state requirement for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to purge records of those who are involuntarily committed for mental health treatment after five years. People on the GBI’s list aren’t allowed to own a gun.

The effect of the bill would be that those hospitalized for mental health issues wouldn’t automatically have their gun rights restored after five years. Instead, they’d have to petition a judge to reinstate their ability to buy or own a gun.

Gov. Nathan Deal said he would reluctantly sign a tax bill. The deal cuts the state income tax and strips Delta Air Lines of a lucrative break. Senate Republicans voted to strip a $50 million jet fuel tax break from the bill. The break was removed after Delta severed ties with the NRA. Deal said he wanted to vote for general cuts and would still seek a tax break for Delta.

Georgia is the only state in the nation that purges records of mentally ill patients after five years, said Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, the bill’s sponsor.

The legislation was introduced after the Feb. 14 shooting at a south Florida high school that left 17 people dead. The man charged in the killings, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had sought mental treatment but had not been involuntarily committed, so his purchase of an AR-15 was legal.

The bill passed without any debate in the House. It now advances to the state Senate.

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