For the nearly 6 million people who live in the Atlanta metropolitan area, gun violence is a terrifying and tragic reality of everyday life. It has been for far too long, and is now more than ever.
In 2017, 1,623 Georgia residents died by shooting. That number has been steadily climbing at a rate of 77 more deaths each year since record keeping began in 2014, and the problem is even more concentrated in and around Atlanta. In 2016, Atlanta was ranked the #18 “Murder Capitol” of the U.S, and guns were involved in 82% of all recorded homicides in the city.
Just because gun violence is currently a fact of life, however, doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable or unchangeable.
Shooting Deaths Are Not Inevitable
There’s a pervasive attitude that gun violence is a force of nature that can’t be controlled, which is particularly convenient for those who profit off of preserving the cycle of violence. That doesn’t just mean weapons manufacturers; many landowners also profit from enabling criminal activity and avoiding responsibility for the resulting tragedies.
Harboring gang activity and the drug trade are common ways landlords end up with high-crime properties, yet when drug– or gang-related shootings happen, they expect the victims, or the often-unidentified shooters, to shoulder sole blame. After the gang shooting that claimed the life of a 15-year-old in Southwest Atlanta in February, for example, exhausted parents interviewed on the property simply called such tragedies “the norm.”
Even shootings with no known link to gangs often happen brazenly and without consequence in Atlanta. In March, a man sprayed a Fulton Street apartment complex with bullets from a high-powered rifle, and then returned the next day and did it again, in exactly the kind of repetitive crime pattern landlords are responsible for preventing. He’s still at large and unidentified.
Shootings of Residents and by Residents Are Both Enabled by Poor Security
In one of Atlanta’s most heartbreaking gun violence incidents of the year so far, a 19-year-old accidentally knocked on the wrong door while trying to get home to his new apartment. The man living in the apartment he’d mistaken for his own shot him three times while he was pleading, explaining, and running away. His girlfriend, trying to guide him home through Facetime, witnessed the entire incident through the app.
Just a couple months earlier, in January of 2019, a man knocked on the door of a woman’s Atlanta apartment, and after a brief argument, she shot and killed him. Unlike the incident with the 19-year-old, little information has been released about the woman, the man, or the circumstances, but there are so many ways better security can prevent such incidents.
If she fired in self-defense, then building management failed to protect her. If it was malice, management likely ignored the warning signs that she was a danger to others. If it was honest but misguided fear, then her decision to pull the trigger was influenced by her feeling of safety (or lack thereof) in her own home — also a result of management’s track record.
If you’ve lost someone to a shooting in an unsafe apartment complex or hotel, contact the premises liability lawyers at The Stoddard Firm to learn about your options for holding the property owner accountable.