Gun deaths in Metro Atlanta by the numbers


Homicide by gun is something that is in the news all too often. Is Atlanta a hot bed of gun deaths? How do we actually compare to other parts of Georgia per capita?

"Perception and reality aren't always the same. CBS46 wanted to know the reality of gun deaths in and around our area.

On September 25, there was a shootout in the middle of the day at a Gwinnett County gas station. On October 5, a man on a motorcycle pointed a gun at a driver.

Fortunately those scenes, which were caught on camera, did not end in death, but all too often death is the end result of a gun being pulled.

Former State General Assembly member Douglas Dean watched as homicide detectives investigated a gun death in his neighborhood on October 23. A man was shot and killed at 10:30 a.m.

"We need to get guns out of the hands of the wrong people. The way you do that is you got to discourage folk from thinking the only way to settle something is by guns and shooting people and stuff like that," said Dean.

According to Fulton County police, in 2012 there were 14 gun deaths. In 2013, it rose to 16. And in 2014 and 2015, it went back down to 14

The numbers of gun deaths is only slightly lower for neighboring Cobb County. In 2011, there were 12. 2012 saw 10. And in 2013, it jumped to 14 and went back down to 10 in 2014. In 2015, there have been eight so far.

Looking specifically at Atlanta gun deaths, in 2011 there were 71. That dropped in 2012 to 63. But then those numbers rose in 2013 to 72 and in 2014 to 76. So far in 2015, there are 66 gun deaths.

"There really hasn't been an extreme change over the years to the point where it's alarmingly high from last to this year or the previous year to this year," said Atlanta Homicide Major Adam Lee III.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed lays some of the blame for gun deaths on state laws.

"When we take illegal guns off the street, under Georgia state law right now we actually have to return them or make them available to the public in some form. So we used to be able to destroy illegal guns. We are no longer able to do that anymore," said Reed.

Atlanta isn't alone when it comes to gun deaths per capita in Georgia. According to the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control , seven Georgia counties had the highest gun death rates per 100,000 people.

Besides Fulton and DeKalb counties, also included are Muscogee, Bibb, Richmond, Colquit and Chatham counties.

Lee said the lack of key things in a young person's life, plus a bad element, is behind many of Atlanta's gun deaths.

"Education. Parenting. It doesn't have to be an actual parent, but just having a good role model in your life. Influence of gangs and gang membership and the materialism and looking at them from the materialistic standpoint," said Lee.

As work continues to decrease the number of gun homicides, Mayor Reed admits it's a battle that will never end.

"We will always have some form of crime because we're a major American city. But what matters is how people feel, and I just want people to know that I'm focused on this every single day," said Reed.

In Atlanta, unclaimed firearms can be converted to city use. Property weapons unclaimed by owner and not converted to city use are currently being held in storage. No firearms have been auctioned or destroyed by APD in the past two years.

Copyright 2015 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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