Spa killings prompt new proposals from Georgia Democrats

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People hold signs while participating in a "stop Asian hate" rally outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

ATLANTA – Georgia Democrats have introduced a slate of legislation in response to the massage business shootings that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent — though it's unlikely the bills will see movement in the Republican-controlled legislature.

The proposals would require a five-day waiting period for gun purchases, establish a statewide translation system for 911 calls and create enhanced training for law enforcement emphasizing outreach in other languages.

Democrats say they're responding to news reports that suggest people who couldn't speak fluent English had trouble communicating with responding officers, as well as reports that the suspect bought a gun the morning of the shootings.

The bills have little chance of passing this year because they're too late for procedural deadlines and only days remain in a legislative session set to end March 31. Also, any proposals that limit gun sales are likely to face staunch GOP opposition.

“We’re definitely looking more toward next session, just because of the way that the process is,” said Democratic state Rep. Marvin Lim, who is among the Asian American lawmakers sponsoring the bills. “But that’s not the point. We needed to act now and send a message" to the grieving communities, as well as to start a conversation with law enforcement agencies about accessibility, he said.

"The three bills aim to respond to various failures in the system,” Lim said.

Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, is accused of killing eight people at three separate Atlanta-area massage businesses. Another person was shot but survived.

Democratic Rep. Sam Park is the primary House sponsor for the proposal to institute a five-day waiting period for gun purchases.