Packing heat? Then stay off my street

The Southerner

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BY CIENA LESHLEY

Most of us are huge fans of the ultraviolent, action-packed shoot-em-up type movies. I must admit, I enjoy watching the good guys and bad guys alike shooting from the car windows in car chases, shooting in the aisles at the grocery store and shooting on crowded sidewalks in the street. In the movies, the action is gripping and entertaining; in real life, it’s not quite as fun. Living in Atlanta can sometimes feel like I’m living in No Country for Old Men. I don’t even feel safe walking the 0.4 miles from my job to my home after dark anymore.

According to the Atlanta Police Department’s website, in my neighborhood of Inman Park, there have been 73 cases of robbery, burglary and theft since mid-June, along with two cases of aggravated assault. Two men, one carrying a handgun, robbed North Highland Pub before shooting into the air in a bustling parking lot in early August. In July, two waitresses were held up by a guy with a gun while they were walking out of Barcelona Wine Bar after their night shift.

My area isn’t the only neighborhood that has seen an alarming rise in the crime rate. Grant Park, Southeast Atlanta, and even the area surrounding Grady have experienced crime over the summer, and it’s no surprise that a lot of the crimes involve guns. The gun laws in Georgia say that to purchase a gun, you need neither a permit nor a clean record. To carry a gun, you need a license, and you can’t legally get one of those if you’re a felon. But how many felons do you know who follow the law?

With all this crime and all these guns, you’d think the Georgia legislators would be pushing for more restricted gun laws that would curb the crime rate. Instead, members of our state legislature are pushing for a new, more lenient gun law: House Bill 981. If House Bill 981 is passed, places that have always been considered “no-fly” zones for licensed people packing heat would be totally open for business. People with a license to carry would be allowed to carry their concealed weapons into bars, public schools, government buildings (including our capitol), college campuses, polling precincts and places of worship.

I just have one question: Why? Why would anyone need a gun at their side while they’re drinking some whiskey? This isn’t the wild wild west, and you’re not about to challenge the nearest gunslinger to a duel to save your honor or to rob the nearest carriage. Why would anyone need a gun in a public school? So teachers can really discipline the students? And why in the world would anyone need a gun in church? Is my grandmother’s worship that big of a threat to your safety? Why should we continue this chain of gun violence in our city? As all of our grandparents at one point told us, you can’t fight fire with fire.

 
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