Deadly Atlanta medical center shooting has some in Southeast Georgia reconsidering gun ownership

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Prior to that deadly shooting in Atlanta, there was much debate over Georgia changing its gun laws to allow both open carry and concealed carry without a permit.

On Wednesday, after the news of the shooting broke, News4JAX spoke with Georgia residents who up until today were on the fence about owning and carrying a firearm.

MORE: Police capture suspect in Atlanta medical facility shooting

They said recent events that have become national news stories have helped them make up their mind.

Wednesday’s mass shooting in Atlanta that injured left one person dead and multiple people injured come just days after the mass shooting in Texas where a gunman killed five people including a 9-year-old boy.

Both Texas and Georgia recently amended their state gun laws that allow citizens who can legally own a firearm to carry that weapon openly and concealed without a permit. Although the argument has always been that a good guy with a gun will always stop a bad guy with a gun, News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Lakesha Burton said it’s too early to tell if that theory is accurate.

“These laws are fairly new, and I think that it’s going to take time. Over time we will need to look at the data to see if there is a direct correlation to that,” Burton said.

At Mariner’s Point shopping plaza in St. Mary’s, those News4JAX spoke with were just learning about the mass shooting five hours up the road in Atlanta. Lisa Bryan said she’s never owned a gun and has been on the fence about getting one. But after hearing about what happened in Atlanta she made a decision to go out and buy one for protection.

“You have to be able to protect yourself and now so much is happening that it makes you cautious about leaving the house,” Bryan said.

Bryan was not alone.

Tonya Grater said the news made her want to go buy a gun.

“Yes. Yes. Definitely. My daughter and I were talking about that today,” Grater said.

“I don’t see myself carrying a gun, but can I understand why people would want to,” Alison Ackerman said.

Trevor Lewis is a gun owner who supports people carrying guns for protection. But he also believes that not everyone should be allowed to own and carry a firearm, especially after what happened in Atlanta.

“If you have people with mental diseases or if they are known for doing crazy acts, they shouldn’t possess a firearm. But for the average person, you must have protection on you,” Lewis said.

While we don’t know if the gunman in today’s mass shooting suffered from a mental illness, his grandmother told me over the phone that she wants him to come to his senses and turn himself in. After News4JAX spoke to her, police said in a statement that the gunman, who they identified as 24-year-old Deion Patterson, was captured Wednesday evening. Authorities did not immediately release additional information about where Patterson was found.

She said this has left her heart broken and that she feels bad for the victims and their families.

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