Georgia Coalition for Safe Communities

A coalition advocating for common sense policies that prevent violence.


We have a gun violence crisis in Georgia. We can no longer ignore the fact that Georgia has some of the highest levels of gun-related violence in the country, and it has taken a devastating toll on our communities. The Georgia Coalition for Safe Communities shares a committed willingness to have the difficult conversations surrounding gun violence. Since the 1990’s there has been a void in funding gun research. We support expanding federal, state and private funding for gun violence research to understand the overall patterns of gun violence, how our communities are affected by it and identify those most at risk. Broadening research is a necessary priority to provide answers and shape policy that will help advance gun violence prevention.

 

Georgia facts:

  • Georgia ranked 18th highest for gun-related deaths of any state. This rate is 25% higher than the national average. [1]
  • Georgia has a higher rate of gun-related crime in the country. Georgia ranked 11th highest for gun-related murders. [2]
  • Georgia has seen an increase in the lethal combination of domestic violence and guns with   firearms being the cause of death in 71% of recorded domestic violence fatalities in 2016.  [3]
  • Georgia gun violence is a public health crisis deserving scientific research similar to that targeting cancer and heart disease. More than 1,200 people died from gunshot wounds each of the past several years in Georgia. Given that 61% of gun violence victims die by their own hand, the potential for clinical intervention with evidence-based and evidence-informed policies is powerful.    [4]

 

The Georgia Coalition for Safe Communities is comprised of passionate advocates from organizations across our state that seek to inform, educate, and help mobilize individuals and localities on actions and practices that promote common sense policies that prevent violence. We share a committed willingness to have the difficult conversations surrounding gun violence and its dangerous effect on the health of our communities. We are motivated to help encourage gun violence research, improve the safety and enhance the quality of life for all Georgians, without the threat of violence.

 

Advocates for Responsible Care (ARxC)

Compassionate Atlanta

OUTCRY

 

Download the GCSC One-Pager.

Read the GCSC statement in response to the August 4, 2019 shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH.

 

[1] Georgia Gun Violence Fact Sheet; https://s3.amazonaws.com/interactives.americanprogress.org/maps/raphael/AmericaUnderFire/pdfs/GA-GunViolence-factsheet.pdf

 

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Go to www.SafeGeorgia.org for a full description of the problem and a summary of what GCSC is doing to bring common sense policies to prevent violence in Georgia.

Facebook: GACoalitionforSafeCommunities/

Twitter: @1safega

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GEORGIA BACKGROUND

GCSC is troubled by the lack of funding for gun violence research on the Federal and Local levels; especially on the effects of gun violence on the health of citizens.  In 1996, Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Congressmen passed an amendment to a spending bill that stated funds were not to be used to “advocate or promote gun control.”  With this amendment, Congress lowered the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute of Health (NIH) budgets by the amount of money earmarked for such research.

In March of 2018, Congress added a clarification: the CDC would be allowed to study the causes and effects of gun violence (provided that it did not “promote gun control.”) In late April, a house panel allotted $50 million (half to the CDC and half to NIH) to the study of gun violence.

For Georgia, gun rights protections are frequently addressed by our lawmakers with little enthusiasm for further research on violence prevention and safety. Georgia has a State Constitutional Provision that affirms: There is a right of the people to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne.  

ARTICLE 1, SECTION 1, PARAGRAPH VIII.

In July 2019, Georgia’s Constitutional Carry Act took effect. The bill states it would still restrict unlawful individuals such as convicted felons from having a gun however, it would remove the permit requirement and background checks for law abiding citizens.

In April 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp vetoed a proposal aimed at increasing school safety in the wake of mass shootings across the country, saying he worried the “well-intentioned” bill would create an “unfunded mandate” and undermine local control.

THE PROBLEM

The lack of adequate gun violence prevention funding from the CDC and the NIH has had a disturbing effect on gun violence research since 1996. There has been little significant funding and science based data coming from Georgia.

GCSC hopes to influence gun sense legislation by focusing on the need to develop a science-based Public Health approach to gun violence in Georgia. The problem is Georgia lacks a public health perspective and strategy for dealing with gun-related violence and is without a comprehensive database to ensure effective prevention plans and policies.

Gun Violence has permeated our communities - schools, workplaces, businesses, care-giving facilities, homes, and places of worship. GCSC hopes to join with other partners to examine gun violence risk factors and to expand the research needed to foster a multi-interdisciplinary approach that can help develop effective strategies that protect citizens and advance gun safety technologies. We want to support a willingness, from citizens to elected officials, to be open to undertake efforts and policy that will decrease premature deaths due to gun violence.

Gun violence strikes infants to the elderly. Survivors battle permanent physical and emotional scars. Violence also erodes communities by reducing productivity, decreasing property values, and disrupting social services. The CDC has found different forms of violence, including gun violence, share common consequences that have health effects across the lifespan such as mental, emotional, physical and/or social problems. These consequences contribute to chronic health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, or diabetes.

RESEARCH AND DATA

In 1996, after the CDC published studies implying that possession of a gun in the home dramatically increased the risk of murder and suicide, anti-gun-control groups began attacking the agency and its research. Due to these anti-gun-control groups putting pressure on lawmakers, Congress declared no CDC funding could go toward research that could be used to advocate for gun control. This ban prohibited support for firearm-related research.

After the tragic 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the public discourse on gun violence policies opened funding for research. A proficient report was made by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, establishing a public health research agenda to move a public health approach forward. It was presented to Congress but no real funding response was forthcoming.

The GCSC and its partners believe there is a vital need for gun violence prevention funding for new studies; especially focusing on the health effects of gun violence on our citizens and communities. The CDC has also called for explicit funding to continue their work

Data/Research funding is crucial in this process to validate the gun violence problem; identify root causes, effects on public health, behavioral risks and evaluate effective interventions.

 Through expanded gun violence research GCSC believes we can:

  • Improve understanding gun violence risks for our Georgia communities and individuals.
  • Characterize the differences between fatal and non-fatal gun use
  • Evaluate potential health risks of having a gun in the home and /or carrying a gun in public places.
  • Advance the effectiveness of violence prevention interventions, including gun safety technologies by aiming to curb gun access to violence-prone individuals and situations.
  • Support GA Research so we can report evidence-based information to help influence policymakers.

A Vision: GCSC Influencing Georgia Policymakers

GCSC has a strategic vision to work with all stakeholders to better address the connections and risks among gun violence; shape future research funding initiatives for a public health approach, influence our policymakers to create study committee to examine gun violence as a public health crisis and garner support for this study committee from our collaborative efforts with partners in Georgia and across the country.

Georgia Legislative Update for 2019

The following are some of bills that the Georgia legislature proposed for 2019. GCSC will continue to support the tenants of these bills. None of the bills listed passed the House and Senate in order to become law.

  • GA SB 150:Crimes and Offenses; persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of family violence receiving, possessing, transporting a firearm

A Bill relating to crimes and 1) offenses and to domestic relations, respectively, so as to prohibit persons convicted of 2) misdemeanor crimes of family violence from receiving, possessing, or transporting a firearm 3) and to prohibit persons subject to family violence protective orders from receiving, 4) possessing, or transporting a firearm; to provide an effective date and applicability; to 5) provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

  • GA HB 122: Firearms; license holders carrying and possession of weapons in buildings or real property owned or leased to public institutions of postsecondary education; revoke authorization in certain manners to reverse a 2017 law that allows people with state licenses to carry firearms on many parts of public college campuses.

 

Federal

  • H.R.8: Background Check for Every Firearm Sale.

The House bill makes it unlawful for any person who is not a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to transfer a firearm to any other person who is not so licensed, unless a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer.

  • H.R. 1112: The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019: PASSED House.

The House bill would require background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows and over the internet. This bill would close the Charleston Loophole: which allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three days. It’s a loophole that allowed Dylann Roof to obtain his weapon with which he murdered nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Had the FBI background check been completed, he would have been blocked because it would have been revealed that he had previously admitted to drug possession.

  • H.R. 3076 (identical bill to S.2521): the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019.

Extreme risk laws empower law enforcement to ensure that those who pose a threat to themselves or others do not have access to firearms. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted extreme risk laws to allow law enforcement adequate time to respond to warning signs of a planned shooting or suicide. H.R. 3076, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019 is the only legislation that would ensure nationwide access to this important gun violence prevention measure.

  • S. 66 : Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 and Bump stock Bill

This bill makes it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD).

  • H.R. 435: National Gun Violence Research Act

This bill amends various provisions of law and sets forth new provisions to promote gun violence research as it removes limitations on the use of firearms tracing data by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ; permits funds made available to the Department of Health and Human Services to be used for gun violence research; establishes the National Gun Violence Research Program to promote gun violence research; and authorizes various competitive grants to support research into the nature, causes, consequences, and prevention of gun violence.

 

© GCSC 2019