The issue of preventing gun violence was a bitter and prominent point of contention in the 2018 midterm election, locally as well as nationally, and it’s no wonder why. As of 2016, Georgia ranked fourth in the nation in its gun violence death toll, losing 1,571 residents to shootings that year alone.
Why 2016? Because those numbers come from the brief period after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, when government research into gun violence was reopened by executive order. That program has since been shelved, resuming the gun violence research blackout instituted by the Dickey Amendment in 1996.
This imposed shortage of hard data makes debates on the subject all the more frustrating, filled with partisanship and guesswork, but one thing is clear: the problem exists, and it’s killing people.
Polls indicate that a significant majority of Georgia residents want their elected officials to take a more active role in regulating gun use and preventing fatalities. Even many passionate defenders of responsible gun ownership have come forward to support moderate policy changes and greater emphasis on safety.
Promises about reducing gun violence have made, broken, and tightened political races across the state and the country, and likely will again. Some of those promises may even be kept, but for now, the dying doesn’t stop when an election cycle ends.
Landlords Have a Responsibility to Prevent Foreseeable Tragedies
When discussing the responsibility for preventing gun violence, landlords may not always be the first parties who come to mind, but they play a key role in stopping or enabling unnecessary deaths. Whether they want it to or not, that role needs to be taken seriously.
Under Georgia’s legal precedent, the landlord is liable for damages occurring on a property if “he might have foreseen some injury would result from his act or omission.” Basically, that means that if an assailant walks into a usually peaceful complex starts shooting, it might not be the landlord’s fault. But if the landlord does nothing to tighten security, and then the same thing happens again, that’s something he (or she) should have foreseen and prevented.
To keep tenants safe, landlords can install and maintain security gates, cameras, and thorough lighting in public areas. They can also evict tenants for engaging in criminal activities, especially if they pose a threat to others. This includes harassing other tenants or violating Georgia’s current weapon laws, such as by possessing firearms without a license, or discharging one while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Landlords who fail to take reasonable steps to ensure tenant safety are responsible for the results.
Combating Gun Violence, One Case at a Time
Nothing can bring back a loved one lost to gun violence. Shooters who commit suicide or spend their lives in jail unable to pay for damages offer little solace to the families of their victims, especially when similar incidents in the news reopen the emotional wounds every day.
The Stoddard Firm aims not only to free affected families from the added financial burdens that accompany a death, but to hold those in positions of power — even on a small, local scale — responsible for putting profit margins above human life. If you’ve lost someone, reach out for a consultation today.