Several of Georgia’s Black lawmakers have called for stricter gun control measures in the wake of Atlanta’s latest mass shooting.
On Wednesday around noon, the Atlanta Police Department received an emergency call from the 11th floor of Northside Medical Midtown that there was an active shooter present.
After an hourslong pursuit that ended in Cobb County, APD apprehended 24-year-old Deion Patterson and charged him with one count of murder and four counts of aggravated assault. One person died in the shooting and four others are at Grady Memorial Hospital with serious injuries. Patterson is currently in the Fulton County jail and waived his first court appearance.
The Northside Medical incident was the second mass shooting in Atlanta this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence nationwide.
How are Black political leaders in the metro area and state reacting to the tragedy? This is what we’re hearing.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens
Dickens was one of several to call for “national action” on gun control and mental health treatment.
“We need action that keeps guns out of the hands of people who should not have them,” Dickens said in a statement released Thursday morning. “We cannot accept mass shootings as normal in our country. We know it does not have to be this way. Other nations have challenges with mental health, but they don’t have this level of gun violence that we do in America.”
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock
Warnock’s sister was on lockdown in a nearby Atlanta office building when the alleged Northside shooter was still at large, according to his staff. The U.S. senator from Savannah was in Washington, D.C., calling on Congress to do more to combat gun violence not long after the Northside Medical shooting took place.
“We have done so very little in this building to respond,” Warnock said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
It’s been almost a year since President Joe Biden signed a federal gun safety bill into law in the wake of the horrific Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Warnock, who helped pass that gun safety bill in the Senate, said more needs to be done.
“We behave as if this is normal. It is not normal,” he said of Wednesday’s shooting. “It is not right for us to live in a nation where nobody’s safe, no matter where they are. We’re not safe in our schools. We’re not safe in our workplaces. We’re not safe at the grocery store. We’re not safe at movie theaters. We’re not safe at spas. We’re not safe in our houses of worship. There is no sanctuary in the sanctuary.”
State House Minority Leader James Beverly
The Northside Medical shooting left Gov. Brian Kemp “heartbroken,” according to a statement his office tweeted Wednesday night. The Republican leader thanked and congratulated law enforcement for apprehending the alleged shooter, but declined to offer any additional solutions to the state’s gun violence epidemic.
For that, Georgia’s Democratic state House minority leader, James Beverly, questioned Kemp’s courage in addressing the issue head-on.
“How many more people have to die before we do something about gun violence?” Beverly said in an emailed statement. “Kemp refuses to do anything about gun violence, but prepares statements of condolences. Coward?”
It’s been just over a year since Kemp enacted a bill that allows lawful Georgians to carry concealed handguns without a permit. The move was condemned by multiple Georgia NAACP leaders, who expressed concern that it could lead to more gun deaths.
Black people in Georgia are nearly six times more likely than white people to be killed by a gun, according to a study conducted by the gun control nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams
The chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia told her Twitter followers that staffers at her district office had to shelter in place while authorities continued to search for the Northside Medical shooter.
She also called on Georgia Republicans to do more on the issue of gun violence nine years after former GOP Gov. Nathan Deal signed the “Safe Carry Protection Act” into law.
The measure, which greatly expanded the number of public places lawful firearms owners can carry their weapons for self-defense, was dubbed the “guns everywhere” bill by critics.
“Republicans’ guns-everywhere agenda does not have to be and should not be the norm,” Williams tweeted. “It is within the power of our state’s GOP leadership to take action to prevent criminals or dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons, and their lack of action thus far amounts to a dereliction of duty.”
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath
The Democratic lawmaker’s son, Jordan Davis, was fatally shot by a white man in Jacksonville, Florida, over loud music in 2012. On Wednesday, she asked CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, “What more does it take?” for lawmakers to enact stricter gun control measures.
“I don’t know how much more blood and carnage my colleagues in Washington and also in state legislatures all around the country have to see,” McBath said.