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Sen. Ossoff Discusses Violent Crime Increase, Atlanta Spa Shootings at Senate Hearing

Sen. Ossoff discussed last week’s massacre at three Atlanta spas

He also highlighted disturbing increases in violent crime across the state

Washington, D.C. — Today in a Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff discussed the troubling increase in violent crime across Georgia and the nation, including two weekends with more than 12 shootings in Atlanta, record-setting levels of homicides in Columbus, the massacre in Atlanta last week that killed eight people, including six Asian Americans, and the massacre in Boulder, Colorado, just yesterday.

Sen. Ossoff asked Dr. Selwyn Rogers, Jr., Chief of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine, what he believes is driving the broader increase in crime. 

Dr. Rogers said the COVID-19 pandemic has played a large impact in driving social and economic challenges, and he also pointed to the need to focus on solutions to the disproportionate impact crime has on communities of color more broadly to help solve the problem.

Click here to watch Sen. Ossoff’s line of questioning.

Please find a transcript below:

OSSOFF: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you to our panel for joining us, appreciate that. You’re here with a diversity of views on this issue. I want to begin Dr. Rogers, if I might, two weeks, two massacres. My heart goes out to those who died, and those who lost loved ones last night in Boulder. We’re still reeling in Georgia after the attacks on three Asian-owned small businesses took eight lives last week. And there’s also a broader increase in violence across our society over the last year. In particular, two weekends within the last month, Atlanta, Georgia saw more than 12 shot each weekend. With your experience, Dr. Rogers, could you reflect please, for the benefit of the Committee on what is driving this broader increase in violence? And what do you assess to be the causes of our nearly uniquely American problem of repeated massacres and spree shootings?”

DR. ROGERS: “Thank you, Senator Ossoff. In my opinion, almost 50 percent increase that we’ve seen in Chicago and so many cities across this country of shootings is related to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it’s had, socially and economically on so many distressed communities. And in many ways, intentional gun violence is a symptom of a larger problem in our society. The ready availability of guns puts people at risk. But unfortunately, disproportionately, those communities that are at risk are communities of color. And we aren’t really addressing the upstream factors that lead to this unfortunate as Senator Booker said slaughter, and the slaughter of Americans of mostly Black and Brown Americans in this country has gone on for decades. Tackling that problem is really what we should be focusing on. I think, unfortunately, we don’t address the root causes of gun violence. And we see this time and time again. We’ll have another hearing in another year or another decade, if we don’t do some action now to address the problem fundamentally. What I see every day is incredible, painful impact on families, on health care staff, who shared a burden with their families of gun violence. And that does not even include the economic impact of lost productivity, the lost human capital, or even the fact that we’re not realizing the best of all Americans. And so I really implore the Senate Judiciary Committee to look at constructive ways to address the upstream factors that lead to gun violence in the first place. And also address targeted programs and fund targeted programs that can actually impact secondary gun violence related to recidivism.”

OSSOFF: “Thank you, Dr. Rogers.”

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