SPECIAL REPORT: A rise in gun violence and local officials are speaking up

CSRA News

Gun violence has increased in the CSRA, but how do we make sure a firearm doesn’t fall in the wrong hands.

Chief Deputy with Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Patrick Clayton, says, “this is a phenomenon that is not just happening in Augusta, Georgia. This is happening all over the country.”

Buddy Lichty with Shooters Gun Range weighed in on the topic. “You are dealing with deadly force,” he says

Also, Medical College of Georgia’s Forensic Psychologist, Dr. Michael Vitacco, says, “we as a country need to have serious conversations about what that looks like.”

With gun violence on the rise and background checks a hot button issue, what is it that goes into obtaining a gun?

“If they don’t have the Georgia Weapons Carry license, we have to make sure the forms fill out fully and correctly and we use the electronic login system to the Nix national background checks,” says Lichty.

He’s talking about ATF Form 4473.

The form asks questions about your residency, biological make up, and if you have a criminal background.

Take a closer look at 11F.: “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective, or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?

“Individuals who are impulsive with anger problems, who also use substances has a very strong correlation with violence. There are some specifics of mental illness that may relate to violence but those cases are very specific,” says Dr. Vitacco.

He says many people who are angry or impulsive often are not diagnosed with mental health.

“If you can delay people when they are angry for accessing a firearm, or when they are suicidal, there is a much greater likelihood that they are going to survive or they are not going to commit an act of violence,” says Dr. Vitacco.

Chief Deputy Clayton says a lot of violence stems from those who illegally obtain guns.

“Out of all the car break ins we have, over half of them, a gun is usually stolen,” says Chief Deputy Clayton.

Whether you are dealing with crime or mental health issues, Chief Deputy Clayton says the process to own guns should be more regulated.

“Like to get a drivers license and operate a vehicle, it’s pretty regulated. With firearms we don’t have that,” says Chief Deputy Clayton.

He says violence can also stem from the gun owner, if not used properly.

“You need to take a safety course, and you need to know how to operate the gun safely, and you need to have a place which you store it,” says Chief Deputy Clayton.

When the Nix background checks come back, Lichty says all they receive is a “proceed, delay, or denied.” He says they do not know what the system checks for after they put in the information from the 4473 Form.

He encourages those, even with a permit, to educate themselves on how to use a gun.

“I think we need to do a better job in this country overall at who is allowed to have a fire arm. I’m not suggesting that we take away firearms. I’m not suggesting anything of the sort, but I think we do need to be much more careful at who we allow to walk into a gun show and walk out with a firearm,” says Dr. Vitacco.

If the Nix background check is approved. The law is the law.

For interview highlights with Dr. Michael J. Vitacco, Buddy Lichty, and Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton:

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