AL gun laws address mental health - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

AL gun laws address mental health

(WTVM) - New gun laws took effect in Alabama this week. House Bill 47, sponsored by State Representative Chris England, is mostly made up of laws that have already passed federally but had to be "put on the books" to be enforced on a state level.

"One of the things this bill does, it closes that loophole with mental illness. Not all of the involuntary commitments were being reported to law enforcement," something Representative England says is important in light of recent killings like the theater shooting in Louisiana.

Under HB47, probate judges are now required to report every person involuntarily committed or found not guilty due to a mental illness.

"The more opportunities you give someone to intervene in between a person trying to get a weapon and actually committing the act, may be an opportunity to actually stop it from happening," Said England.

Russell County Probate Judge Harden says that this gives the local judges more authority. Once a mental illness is identified, Judge Harden says it can now be reported to the "National Instant Criminal Background Check System".

A system he says the Sheriff's use when reviewing applicants for concealed carry permits. 

"I think what this does is it helps us in many areas. Law abiding citizens who feel the need to carry a weapon, can do so legally and the ones who are not law abiding and who have a mental illness, a felony, or a restraining order can not... and that's a big help to law enforcement." Said Harden.

Lawmakers hope the new laws will provide more protection for domestic violence situations by prohibiting someone from owning a gun who has an order of protection filed against them.

"If there is a history of domestic violence and the sheriff can prevent them from carrying a weapon than they won't have that weapon to commit a domestic crime of the next level," Harden says the new law also cracks down on people with a history of violence of any type.

Defendants convicted of committing a violent crime or attempting to commit a violent crime cannot own a firearm.

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