What Does Georgian Psychological Well being and Weapons Regulation Say?

An hour-long stalemate in North Macon last week ended with everyone’s safety, but some questions about gun licenses and mental health remained.

MACON, Georgia – An hour-long standoff in North Macon last week ended with everyone’s safety, but some people had questions about gun licenses and mental health.

Bibb County’s probate judge Sarah Harris says part of her job is to decide who will be allowed and denied gun licenses.

She says it can be difficult, but the law is the law.

“You have an active warrant or are charged with a crime for which you may be dismissed,” said Judge Harris.

Judge Harris says at the federal level that a person is automatically prohibited from receiving a firearm if that person has a crime, an active warrant, or a judge decides they need extensive mental health treatment.

“You have to understand that gun license laws are very black and white, so we don’t have a lot of discretion.”

She says she makes her decisions on a case-by-case basis, but she must obey both federal and state laws.

She says Georgia’s laws are the milder of the two.

“Until we fix the mental health system, the rest doesn’t matter because that’s the part that is really broken,” she says.

Harris says in the state of Georgia if you pass the background check and mental health assessment you can get a license.

But she says if you fail and are prescribed psychiatric treatment, your background exam can be suspended within five years. Then you can apply again.

“So you could still be sick, you could still have problems, and unless you were involuntarily committed, you might still be able to get a gun license for not showing up on your background check.”

She says there is a chance that someone will be permanently disqualified from firing, but that is only if a judge makes that decision and there is a whole process that comes with it.

“What people misunderstand is that the average person can’t just go to court and say, ‘I want to commit someone because they’re mentally ill.’ There is a process that you have to go through and that is generated by a hospital, “says Harris.

Harris now says she and other heads of state are working with Governor Brian Kemp to change some of the mental health laws.

This has to happen, she says, in order to support people who could pose a risk in the future.

“Those who have taken medication and then start to stop their medication and their families realize that we can’t do anything for them until they fall apart. That is how our laws are written,” she says.

Harris adds that there are ways to petition to try to keep your gun license or to get it back if you’ve taken it away.