Following publication of my last column, National gun rights group misrepresents pending Georgia gun bill, two things happened. First, GeorgiaCarry.Org published a post on its web site by attorney John Monroe describing how Georgia Gun Owners is incorrect in its claims about the “mental health” portion of HB 875. Second, Georgia Gun Owners sent another email blast this morning obstinately refusing to correct any of the misrepresentations it has made. Worse, the email continues to spread lies.
Pointing to a current federal rulemaking proposal by the Department of Justice to clarify the federal code of regulations on the scope of ineligibility, Georgia Gun Owners makes the rather astonishing claim that dangerous persons court ordered to involuntary outpatient commitments are perfectly legal to purchase firearms. Their email blast states:
"This proposed rulemaking would also amend ATF regulations to clarify that the statutory term 'committed to a mental institution' applies to involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment."
Again, this is a "proposal," not current law, as some claim.
Georgia Gun Owners is correct only in its claim that this is currently a proposal for federal rule making by the Department of Justice. Unfortunately for Georgia Gun Owners and its disingenuous claims, it is also current law.
While Georgia Gun Owners might be forgiven if this was a simple misunderstanding of federal law, all indications are that this is instead a deliberate attempt to mislead. The very proposal being referred to by Georgia Gun Owners contains a case from the Northern District court of Iowa United States v. B.H., 466 F. Supp. 2d 1139, 1147 (N.D. Iowa 2006), which held that “committed to” is the language in federal law, not “committed in” a mental institution. This case reference is in the same document that Georgia Gun Owners is using in a desperate attempt to prove that it is not currently against the law for those with involuntary outpatient commitments to purchase a gun. This wasn’t an obscure mention either, as the case is in the paragraph that discusses why the Department of Justice is wanting specifically to include “outpatient” in the definition. As stated in the proposal: “Although the term “committed to a mental institution” is not defined in 18 U.S.C. 922, the plain language of the statute incorporates both inpatient and outpatient commitments as the statute requires commitment to a mental institution, not commitment in a mental institution. See United States v. B.H., 466 F. Supp. 2d 1139, 1147 (N.D. Iowa 2006).” The firearms seizure in BH occurred in 2003, which I am sure even Georgia Gun Owners would admit was long before the January 2014 rule making proposal currently under consideration by the Department of Justice.
The BATFE currently considers both outpatient and inpatient as a disqualifier (as the case above already shows). In 2007, the BATFE sent a letter to the attorneys general of all fifty states stating, “adjudication that a person was mentally ill and a danger to himself or others would result in Federal firearms disability, whether the court-ordered treatment was on an inpatient or outpatient basis.”
In short, Georgia Gun Owners is wrong, and it is disappointing to learn that whoever is sending out the emails knows the information is wrong, because everything needed to correct the facts on this issue can be found simply by looking at the proposal that is the basis of the email.
Georgia’s pending bill, HB 875, has a provision that will result in reporting involuntary outpatient commitments to NICS within 10 days. These are persons who are found to be an imminent danger and are afforded a hearing and other due process protections. Other states have lead the way on this issue following the Virginia Tech shootings, when it was discovered that the murderer had been adjudicated mentally defective but the state failed to report it to NICS because the involuntary treatment was outpatient. At the time, Virginia law required reporting to NICS only if the involuntary treatment was inpatient. The states below currently report involuntary treatment on an outpatient basis to NICS:
For further information on why Georgia Gun Owners persists in its dishonesty, a helpful read would be Dudley Brown’s War. Dudley Brown founded the National Association of Gun Rights, of which Georgia Gun Owners is the local affiliate.
URGENT: HB 875 will have its first hearing Wednesday, February 5, 2014 February 5, 2014. The hearing will be held from 3 PM to 5 PM in Room 515 in the Cloverdale Legislative Office Building (CLOB). The address is of the CLOB is 18 Capitol Square SW, Atlanta, GA, 30334.
The CLOB is located south and across the street from the Capitol Building.
HB 875 will remove criminal laws regarding carrying firearms in places of worship and government buildings without security screening, among other helpful provisions.
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