Atlanta Police: Growing concerns about gun violence

The City of Atlanta Police Department said the level of gun violence is concerning and are taking steps to remove illegal guns from the streets.

"We have to do something about the gun violence in Atlanta," said Sergeant Warren Pickard with Atlanta Police.  "As police officers it's very concerning to us the level of gun violence that is taking place in the city."

Sergeant Pickard said the department has a gun reduction task force in place.  "Operation Whiplash" has allowed officers to move 1,300 guns off the streets since February, said Sergeant Pickard.

"Through processing those guns, we have been able to determine that 80% of them don't  even belong in the city," said Sergeant Pickard.  "They're stolen guns from all over the country, so we really have to do something about guns falling in the hands of bad guys."

While the task force is making progress, Sergeant Pickard said the department needs to evaluate if the process is working.

"If our process is not working than we really need to ask for help from legislators to see what we can do to get these guns off the street," said Sergeant Pickard.

Senator Vincent Fort said there has been a gun violence problem in Atlanta for a long time and adds that if it comes down to the Legislature being involved, he is on board, but said that the state ought to not pass anymore  measures that make it more difficult to keep guns off the street.

"The state has passed measures to allow guns everywhere, in the last couple of years," said Senator Fort.  "What I call the guns everywhere bill.  The state has to be responsible and work with the city to keep guns off the streets, keep them out of the hands of criminals."

Senator Fort believes it takes the community coming together to tackle this problem.  Atlanta City Council Member Kwanza Hall agrees and said the City of Atlanta has a great legacy of nonviolence through the work of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and others.  Hall believes these problems can be solved through nonviolence.

"All things political, for sure, are local and we think the best way to start this conversation is to begin talking about it around the city, and then maybe we can get support from the state, as well as from national leaders to go ahead and move the needle on addressing gun violence, especially assault weapons that are on the streets," said Hall.

The Atlanta Police Department said they want to get their community partners in place and sit down to discuss what they can do about gun violence.