Atlanta City Council approves new gun safety legislation
The Atlanta City Council approved new gun safety legislation during their Jan. 3, 2022 meeting. The resolution, 22-R-4798, requests the mayor’s Office of Violence Reduction and the Atlanta Police Department to develop a program to provide firearm safety storage (lockboxes) for free to qualifying Atlanta residents.
The resolution was proposed by council member Antonio Lewis. It is intended to prevent accidental shootings, reduce the theft of unsecured firearms and other related crimes. The Atlanta Police Department reported that more than 200 unsecured guns were stolen from cars in 2021. When it was first introduced in October 2022, Atlanta saw 26 self-inflicted gunshot wound cases, five of which were children, since January of that year.
Firearm incidents continued late into 2022, punctuated by the deaths of 12-year-old Zyion Charles and 15-year-old Cameron Jackson, who were killed in a shooting at 17th Street Bridge near Atlantic Station on Nov. 26, 2022. As of Jan. 4, 2023, the Gun Violence Archive reported that Georgia saw 956 total gun-related deaths and 1,493 injuries in 2022. 22 of those deaths and 41 of those injuries were reported in children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, gun violence is a serious public health concern. The CDC recommends storing guns in lockboxes to help prevent children and unauthorized adults from accessing unmonitored firearms.
The Atlanta Board of Education supports the city council’s move to make lockboxes available to owners of firearms in Atlanta. In December 2021, the Board unanimously adopted a Resolution promoting the safe and responsible storage of firearms.
“We will continue to collaborate with the City of Atlanta to bring to an end the scourge of violence that is reaching into our student population,” a spokesperson for the Atlanta Public Schools wrote to Education in Atlanta in an email. “APS will remain committed to this effort and appreciates the support of parents and the community as we all work together to solve this problem.”
As of January 5, Education in Atlanta has not heard back on when the resolution is supposed to go into effect or what criteria Atlanta citizens need to meet to qualify to receive lockboxes. The City Council suggests funding the program by applying for violence reduction grants and other available funding options.