Mass shootings take a toll in Georgia

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Twenty-five dead. Sixty-nine wounded.

That was the toll of mass shootings in Georgia in 2015, according to a nationwide database of gun violence.

The database counted 19 mass shootings – defined as killing or wounding four or more people – in Georgia last year. The database compiles information from news reports on shootings with multiple victims – on average, more than one a day.

Most shootings get relatively little attention, at least compared to the rampage that left 14 dead and 17 injured in San Bernardino, California. Or the October shooting that killed 10 and wounded seven at an Oregon community college. Or the June massacre of nine people inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

But as the database underscores, casualties mount in shootings that barely register in the national news.

In Georgia, the number of mass shootings in 2015 equals 2014’s total (with almost a month left, of course). Both years nearly tripled the seven recorded in 2013.

Last year's 25 deaths follow 20 last year and five the year before. Over the three years, mass shootings in Georgia have wounded 175 people.

Most of the fatalities occurred in a series of family-violence cases: five were killed in Troup County in January, five in Douglasville in February, and four in Forsyth County in July.

The greatest number of victims – 10 wounded – resulted from a bar shooting in Meriwether County in September.

Totals from all shootings this year are not yet available.

Firearms deaths have become increasingly common in Georgia and in other states, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in May. In 2011, the newspaper found, Georgia joined the growing list of states in which people are more likely to be shot to death than killed in a traffic accident.

In 2003, that was the case in only two states and the District of Columbia. By 2013, the newspaper found, gun deaths exceeded traffic fatalities in 29 states and D.C.

It’s too early to know whether an increase in traffic fatalities will reverse the trend in Georgia. The state routinely counts (and publicizes) the number of people who die on the roads, but leaves it to others to keep up with gun deaths.