Gun reform supporters hope new bill will reduce communal violence

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Carolyn Prusa says every act of violence in Savannah and across the country is heartbreaking and unnecessary.

That’s why she joined Moms Demand Action, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for gun reform.

“We cannot sit and offer thoughts and prayers,” said Prusa, head of the organization’s Savannah chapter. “It got to the point with me where it was too painful to do nothing.”

Following the most sweeping gun legislation in three decades, Prusa hopes it will reduce violence in the community and pave the way for more gun control measures.

“This is the biggest bill in decades of inaction,” she said. “It will save lives and it’s also a huge win for survivors of gun violence.”

The bipartisan Safer Communities Act gives states funding for mental health and school safety programs, improves background checks for gun buyers under 21, and keeps guns away from people convicted of domestic violence.

It does not ban assault weapons or require universal background checks.

“This bill isn’t perfect, it doesn’t cover everything, but it will save lives,” Prusa said. “The legislation we advocate if you are a responsible gun owner does not affect you. We just say “hey, pass a background check, be a responsible gun owner, secure your guns, don’t leave them in your car”.

States will also receive money to help implement “red flag” laws, which remove firearms from people deemed a danger to themselves or the public.

“I don’t think there will be much of an impact on guns and gun laws and restrictions,” said Dr. Chad Posick, professor of criminal justice at Georgia Southern University. “But having said that, it’s a starting point to start looking at what those measures are effective in reducing community violence, especially when we’re looking at gun violence.”

Posick said research shows prevention programs are effective in reducing gun violence and believes the bill has the potential to do so.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) was part of the task force that created this bill. Some Republicans continue to push to loosen gun restrictions, including Gov. Brian Kemp who in April passed a bill allowing people to carry a concealed handgun in public without a permit.