ATLANTA — The statistics are undeniable, crime is up all across metro Atlanta and people are outraged about it.
Gun store owners told Channel 2′s Justin Farmer that the rise in crime is now driving many people into their stores -- people who say they had never considered owning a gun until now.
From Buckhead to Bankhead and beyond, the most recent numbers from the city of Atlanta show the grim pattern.
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Murders are up 59%, the highest level in two decades. Rapes are up 38%, assaults 45% and auto thefts are up 29%.
“I’ve never considered myself as somebody that would, you know, consider purchasing a firearm,” said new gun owner Norha Lee. “I just don’t feel safe, just personally, just from crime.”
“(There’s) definitely a big uptick in sales for us over the last 12 months,” said Ken Dye, who co-owns Stoddard’s Range and Guns. “Demand is high, you know, (with) several million new gun owners in the last 12 months.”
The industry reports from coast to coast some 10 million Americans lawfully purchased a firearm for the first time over the past year.
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“We saw greater demand. People were concerned about their own safety, the ability for law enforcement to get to them quickly if they needed law enforcement.”
Specifically, in Atlanta, there’s been a wave of officers leaving the force, hundreds in fact, saying they don’t feel supported.
New efforts to increase pay and retention are underway at Atlanta City Hall, but optimism seems scarce from the southside to the northside. Social media pages, neighborhood watch, clergy and everyday citizens are fed up.
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The Buckhead community, a principal source of city revenue, is again talking secession.
“Being part of Fulton County, and paying the lion’s share of property taxes to fund the police, it’s like we’re a second thought. It’s very disappointing,” Lee told Farmer.
Combine fear, frustration and legislative talk of gun control, and you have a record rise in gun sales.
State House Speaker David Ralston recently said if Atlanta can’t get it right on crime, the state can step in.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she welcomes that input if the state wants to tackle criminals’ access to guns and gang violence.