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New Georgia bill will make gun owner responsible if weapon is used during crime

HB 135 would create a law making an individual criminally responsible if a firearm is taken due to irresponsibility and used in a crime.

ATLANTA — A bill being introduced in the Georgia State House is aimed at protecting people and their families while also promoting firearm safety among gun owners across the state.

Statistics released by EveryState.org shows in an average year, 1,693 people die and 4,321 are wounded by guns in Georgia. It also shows Georgia has the 10th-highest rate of gun violence in the U.S.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D) representing District 82 says HB 135, which she is co-sponsoring, isn't about taking away guns. She said it's about holding owners accountable.

"They deal with gun safety and personal responsibility for the misuse of your gun," explained Oliver about the proposed legislation.

Across the country, 161 children and teens die by guns every year, which is now the leading cause of death among youth in the U.S. It surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.

In some homicides, shootings and accidental shootings in metro Atlanta, it's often discovered that firearms were stolen during break-ins of homes and vehicles. 

Oliver said the bill is about holding irresponsible gun owners responsible for their actions. 

"When are you liable when your gun is taken and commits a crime by another person?" she said. "I want a conversation in the General Assembly about what is your personal responsibility for your own gun when it is used in a crime."

She added HB 135 isn't just about criminals getting their hands on someone else's guns. 

"When are you liable when a child -- who never has the right to possess a gun -- is taken from your house or your car and possesses it?" Oliver said.

Sierra Scott knows all too well the dangers of leaving a gun around a child. Her child, 3-year-old Amir Porter was shot in the head on Jan. 22 inside a hotel in Douglasville. 

Amir was staying with his dad at the time he was shot.

"I feel like he failed my baby as a father," Scott said. "You supposed to protect him at all times, and you failed to protect him. Like I said, how did you even let this get around to where he can get into it? Why did you need to have this being around him for one?"

Fortunately, Amir survived. Sierra said his breathing tube was taken out and he's no longer sedated. Amir remains hospitalized and has a long road to recovery. 

Police arrested his father and a woman. Both are accused of aggravated assault, second-degree cruelty to children, reckless conduct and making false statements.

Oliver said while she hasn't had a lot of hope from her Republican colleagues to take up this conversation regarding HB 135, she hopes after another year of a record homicide rate in Atlanta and the number of teens getting their hands on guns and even being shot, her colleagues will prove her wrong.


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