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Georgia’s gun laws are under scrutiny following three shootings at Atlanta-area spas on Tuesday that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
Robert Aaron Long, the suspect in custody charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, was apprehended by law enforcement around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Authorities said a 9mm firearm was found in the car Long was driving when he was arrested. It was the only weapon they said they found.
Long purchased a gun from Big Woods Goods in Cherokee County on Tuesday prior to the shootings, Matt Kilgo, an attorney for the storeKilgo added that the store is fully cooperating with law enforcement and there is “absolutely zero indication” that there was anything improper with the transfer of the firearm to Long.
NBC News also reported that the gun was legally purchased on Tuesday, according to two senior law enforcement officials.
Georgia does not require a waiting period for firearm sales, which means a person can walk into a federally licensed gun seller and make a purchase immediately if they pass a background check.”Most background checks if there’s no flag on it take about 100 seconds,” Robyn Thomas, Giffords Law Center Executive Director, told Newsweek. “So you’re talking about two minutes at most and then you have your gun, you can walk out the door with no training, no other kind of information.”
Giffords, a national gun violence prevention advocacy group, has given Georgia an “F” on their annual scorecard of gun laws in all 50 states. The Peach State has the 14th highest gun death rate in the nation. Currently, Republican lawmakers are pushing new legislation that would allow “lawful weapons carriers” to carry a firearm without a license.Matthew Wilson, a Democratic Georgia state representative, tweeted Wednesday that “in Georgia, it’s easier to buy a gun than it is to vote.”
Another state representative, Mike Wilensky, tweeted: “We need to have a law in Georgia that after you apply for a gun there is a waiting period. I have never heard of someone in a rush to get a gun for a safe, good reason.”
There are waiting periods for gun purchases in 10 states and the District of Columbia. The wait times vary in degree from 72 hours in Illinois, all the way up to about 10 days in California and in Washington D.C.
“I would really encourage Georgia and other states across the country to look at what happened here and think about what they could do in order to reduce or prevent such incidents from happening again,” Igor Volsky, the executive director of the advocacy group Guns Down AmericaVolsky pointed to a 2017 study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that waiting period laws that delay firearm purchases by a few days reduce gun homicides by roughly 17 percent.
“This is particularly pertinent obviously against the backdrop of the spike we’ve seen in hate crimes in this country. We’re at a 10-year high,” Volsky said. “In particular, the recent uptick in hate crimes against Asian Americans.”While the deadly shootings have not yet been definitively deemed a hate crime by authorities, they come amid a national surge of attacks against Asian Americans. Research released from Stop AAPI Hate on Tuesday showed nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents were reported over the course of a year since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Vice President Kamala Harris expressed her support with the Asian-American community, stating: “We stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people. But knowing the increasing level of hate crime against our Asian American brothers and sisters, we also want to speak out in solidarity with them and acknowledge that none of us should ever be silent in the face of any form of hate.”