DeKalb ordinance would mandate safe storage of guns

By Tyler Estep, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A DeKalb County commissioner has introduced a local ordinance that would mandate the safe and secure storage of firearms, a measure he said would help address preventable gun deaths and stem the tide of violent crime.

Commissioner Ted Terry said he’s been working on the legislation for quite a while. But Tuesday morning’s public reveal came just a week after a Michigan teen allegedly used a gun purchased by his father to kill four classmates and wound several others at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit.

“This is a policy that works,” Terry said. “We have to do it across the country, but we’re not waiting. We’re taking action now.”

Terry’s commission district covers the western half of DeKalb, including parts of the city of Atlanta. Several other local officials — including state Sen. Elena Parent, Atlanta school board chairman Jason Esteves and incoming Atlanta City Council president Doug Shipman — joined him at the press conference announcing his proposal.

So did representatives from Moms Demand Action, a national advocacy group that pushes for stronger gun laws.

As written, the DeKalb ordinance would make it unlawful to store firearms where “a minor, at-risk person or prohibited person” could easily gain access. It would require that guns either be stored in a locked container or “secured by a device or mechanism, other than the firearm safety, designed to render a firearm temporarily inoperable.”

Terry said that, in the absence of state or federal action, putting such an ordinance in place on the local level would play a part in addressing “the millions of children who are at risk from accessing unsecured firearms, or the hundreds of thousands of guns that are stolen out of vehicles that are funneled into the black market and used in violent crimes.”

The draft ordinance currently calls for a $500 fine for first-time violators. Options on the local level are limited and Terry said that, as much as anything, it’s about providing a basis for educating gun owners about the potential ramifications if they don’t properly secure their firearms.

“These are not radical acts,” said Liliana Bakthiari, who was recently elected to represent Atlanta City Council District 5. “This is common sense gun legislation.”

Parent — a Democrat whose state Senate district includes parts of the Avondale Estates, Brookhaven and Decatur — decried the fact that similar legislation she’s introduced at the state level has gone nowhere.

But the idea may be gaining steam on the municipal level.

Bakthiari said she and future colleagues are interested in proposing similar legislation in Atlanta. Esteves, the Atlanta school board chair, said that body adopted a resolution Monday night committing themselves to increase efforts at educating local parents about safe firearm storage.

Khalid Kamau, the mayor-elect of the city of South Fulton, was also at Tuesday’s press conference and said he plans to introduce his own safe storage ordinance once he takes office.

Terry’s draft ordinance, meanwhile, was formally introduced at a DeKalb County commission meeting later Tuesday morning. It will go through the commission’s normal committee process and won’t be discussed in earnest until the new year.

“The Georgia legislature has pre-empted almost everything when it comes to gun control, but is silent on safe storage legislation,” Terry said. “We welcome a legal challenge because it’s important to have those debates. But in the meantime we’re going to move forward.”

Leaders take on gun safety, secure gun storage at the local level

Originally published in The Champion

Members of local school boards, city councils, county commissions, and other leaders and elected officials gathered in Decatur recently to discuss gun safety and what changes can be made at the local level to ensure guns are stored properly.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry was joined by State Senator Elena Parent, Atlanta Public School Board Chair Jason Esteves, Atlanta City Council President-Elect Doug Shipman, Atlanta City Council-Elect Liliana Bakhtiari, South Fulton Mayor-Elect Khalid Kamau and members of the Moms Demand Action organization to announce their push for legislation and resolutions at all levels of government to require safe storage of guns.

“The [recent] Oxford High School shooting in Oakland County, Michigan highlighted the increased urgency to pass common sense gun safety measures. Police involved in this case say that the shooter used a gun he got from his parent’s nightstand which was unsecured. This tragedy and countless others we’ve endured are avoidable and we can start here at the local level by passing secure gun storage policies immediately,” said Terry.

While Terry said an introductory draft of local legislation for the proper storage of guns has been shared with DeKalb County’s public safety committee for review, Esteves announced that Atlanta Public Schools (APS) passed a resolution that requires school board members and the superintendent to work with organizations, families, and the city of Atlanta to “communicate and educate stakeholders on the great responsibility and need of safe storage of guns.”

“While as a school board we can’t pass gun legislation, we can certainly do what we can to ensure our parents and community members know and understand their responsibilities as gun owners,” said Esteves.

Bakhtiari and Shipman, both recently elected in the Nov. 30 runoff, said voters expressed concerns with gun safety and the uptick in gun violence throughout metro-Atlanta during their time campaigning.

“During this election, on door-steps, in forums and in small groups, people talked a lot about wanting to do something new to address our public safety issues,” said Shipman. “They would ask me about how we could do something about the proliferation of guns and gun violence. That question came up very often. I am excited to see that across counties, cities and school districts, we’re trying to address what voters have demanded in this past election, which is ‘find solutions and find new ways of dealing with this problem.’”

Terry said he expects a discussion about the proposed safe gun storage legislation in DeKalb County to occur by the end of the year. He said he has spoken with county commissioners and local leaders in Columbus, Macon, Savannah, Chatham, Athens, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinett, Newton, and Rockdale counties, all of whom “were interested in taking action locally in the absence of action taken at the state and federal level.”

“There might be legal challenges ahead but that’s OK, […] and we’re prepared to have that debate, but today, we have local leaders here in metro-Atlanta and across Georgia standing up and taking action,” Terry said.

According to Moms Demand Action and Everytown, two nonprofits that advocate against gun violence and are working in collaboration with APS and DeKalb County officials, gun owners can make their homes and communities safer by storing their guns locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition.

Learn more about proper gun storage, secure gun storage devices and more at

Cottages on Vaughan Community Tours

First of its kind pocket neighborhood fits 8 homes on a half-acre 

Clarkston, GA. –– On Saturday, November 13, 2021 the Atlanta-based nonprofit MicroLife Institute will welcome visitors from across DeKalb to its newly completed Cottages on Vaughan development. The community will be available to tour from 10 AM to 11 AM.  The tour is FREE for DeKalb County residents and is $25 for others.    This tour is held monthly and the last tour in 2021 will be on December 11, 2021. 

The new pocket neighborhood, situated on a half-acre lot a block away from downtown Clarkston, includes eight tiny homes, a common green space for gathering, and climate-conscious development features such as solar panels and edible, regenerative landscaping. 

“This project is a proof of concept for us.” Will Johnston, Founder and CEO of MicroLife Institute, said. “When people see these homes, they are shocked, they can’t believe the cottages are under 500 square feet, and that’s exactly the reaction we want. Every inch of this space was intentionally built to challenge our perception of space and make us reflect on how we can better utilize it.” 

The development was originally approved in May of 2019, on the heels of 14 months of work with Councilmember Jamie Carroll and then Mayor, now DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry to write and pass the city’s first tiny-home ordinance. 

“I’m thrilled to see this project come to fruition,” DeKalb Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry said. “The goal of this project was to get innovative with our development ordinances to allow for a greater diversity of housing options. We recognize that the past 50 years of urban sprawl has segregated communities, contributed to climate change, and exacerbated housing inequality, and we can only start to address these challenges if we push the boundaries of what’s possible and start to rethink how we’re using space.” 

Following the project’s groundbreaking in late 2019, the cottages had already developed an interest list of more than 1,500 people from around the country. 

Kim Morrison, Director of Development and Policy has been with Microlife for over 5 years and was essential in the development. 

“Evolving policy to allow for more innovative development is the first step for projects like this to be possible” Morrison says. “ Our housing policies need to accommodate our smaller household sizes, not just larger single-family homes that are allowed and proliferating.”

Partners for the Cottages on Vaughan include Roots Down, Better Tomorrow Solar, Mitsubishi Trane HVAC, Covetool, Gama Sonic Solar, Wascon Sales and Service, Citizens Trust Bank, AARP GA


About the MicroLife Institute

MicroLife Institute is dedicated to educating individuals, groups and cities about the positive impacts of micro living. By connecting thought leaders and professionals we encourage and enable developments of walkable, sustainable “micro-hood” communities

DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry introduces resolution to remove ‘Indian War’ cannon from Decatur Square

Decatur, GA — The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners will soon consider removing the controversial “Indian War” cannon from the Decatur Square. The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Ted Terry on Sept. 28 and was backed by Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson.

The board did not make a final decision Tuesday morning about removing the cannon. The resolution was deferred for two weeks, so it can be considered by a committee before the Board of Commissioners votes on the resolution.

The cannon was placed in Decatur in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and memorializes the removal of Indigenous peoples following the Creek Indian War of 1836. The war was a consequence of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which President Andrew Jackson strongly supported, according to a report from the National Park Service. In 1821, Georgia forced the sale of half of the remaining Creek land, including the land that is now the city of Decatur, which was taken by white settlers in a land lottery.

The UDC also installed a confederate monument that was removed in 2020. The Decatur City Commission in December adopted a resolution in support of the cannon’s removal.

The cannon is not publicly owned and is not a monument as defined by state law, according to the resolution. The cannon will be moved to an appropriate storage facility within 90 days.

Members of the community continued to encourage the commissioners to remove the cannon. Some have suggested replacing the cannon with a memorial or artwork that commemorates Indigenous people and also educates the public.

With Indigenous People’s Day approaching on Oct. 11, Paul McLennan, a member of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, asked the board to take action, pass the resolution and remove the genocide cannon. Beacon Hill has gathered more than 1,800 signatures on a petition in favor of removal. He shared some comments that accompanied the signatures.

“No need for a cannon on public property that commemorates the decimation of Indigenous people and their forced removal,” McLennan said when sharing the comments. “There are many great moments in DeKalb history that could be commemorated with a statue. All of them I’d be proud to show my Black son. This cannon isn’t on that list.” 

Others said that the community shouldn’t celebrate genocide and said the cannon re-traumatizes Creek and other Indigenous people.

Some also said they want to walk through Decatur knowing the city and county stand for justice, not violence and suppression. They also advocated for the need to stop whitewashing history and come to terms with the hateful, violent roots of white supremacy.

“We need to listen to and amplify the voices that a white supremacist society relentlessly tries to silence. Symbols rooted in hate do not belong in our public space,” McLennan said while sharing the comments. “Replace the cannon with a symbol that honors the lives of Indigenous people that will make them feel welcome back in their homeland.” 

The Rev. Karen Bryant Shipp, minister of music at Oakhurst Baptist Church, also supports removing the cannon.

“Mounted in the Square in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the cannon memorializes the malicious, violent removal of the Muscogee Creek Nation from their homes in Georgia, including what is now Decatur, and later from Alabama,” Bryant Shipp said. “It glorifies the Euro-centric Christian nationalism of the white settlers who first drove the Muscogee from the land.”

She and others demanded that the resolution be passed and acted upon without further delay.

“Given John Lewis’ unwavering support for justice for Indigenous peoples, it would be a travesty for a statue celebrating his life and work to be erected just feet away from a cannon used in the effort to disinherit and annihilate the Muscogee Nation,” she said. “Do not allow this relic to remain in [the] Decatur Square silently broadcasting its message of hate and racism and genocide.”

DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry Discusses Community Policing, Expanding Mental Health Resources

Originally published by WABE

DeKalb County Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry says following the officer-involved shooting of Matthew Zadok Williams, his office was inundated with calls, social media posts and messages.

“We heard outrage, concern and the number one thing that I immediately thought of is how do we make sure this never happens again,” explained Commissioner Terry on Tuesday’s edition of “Closer Look.”

Terry talked with show host Rose Scott about a response letter that he wrote to John Jackson, the chairman of the DeKalb County Democratic Committee about several proposed initiatives aimed at improving community policing and expanding mental health resources countywide.

Commissioner Ted Terry introduces a resolution condemning AAPI violence, xenophobia, and hate

Newly elected DeKalb County Super District 6 Commissioner, Ted Terry, this week introduced an anti-hate resolution to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, a press release said.

The resolution is in response to attacks on Atlanta’s Asian community that occurred on March 16. The attacks resulted in the deaths of eight people at spas in the Atlanta area. . .

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Commissioner Ted Terry launches Fruitful Communities campaign

Originally published in Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA –– On Monday, April 12, Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at transforming public spaces into regenerative, productive urban landscapes, a press release said.

The project, called Fruitful Communities, will address food insecurity, food deserts and developing policies that combat climate change at the local level. Commissioner Terry first piloted this program in Clarkston, where he previously served as Mayor, with a community-designed micro-food forest and meadow system and a first-of-its-kind urban grower training program for public works staff.

“Conventional landscaping has destroyed so many of our edible native plant species,” Terry said. “Often, the focus is on mowing, blowing, and spraying pesticides and herbicides on our public and private spaces. The bioaccumulation of these chemicals in our local environment impacts the overall health of our communities. The Fruitful Communities Initiative is an opportunity for us to move away from this inefficient and wasteful system.

“I envision a future DeKalb with communities full of urban growers tending and harvesting tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce each year and putting much of it back into our local food system. We can reduce our carbon footprint and create localized, higher-paying green jobs.”

Fruitful Communities will kicked off with a Community Forum on April 14.

“Our philosophy at Roots Down has three main components: food, ecology, and community,” said Roots Down founder Jamie Rosenthal. “Most landscapes don’t prioritize any of these things, which is why they are underutilized and unproductive despite the millions of dollars DeKalb County spends every year to mow grass and spray synthetic chemicals. Fruitful Communities is a framework for government officials and residents to reimagine public and private spaces and get a return on their investment.”

Partners for Fruitful Communities include Compost Now, Servescape, The Audubon Society, Multiply Monarch, and Be Compostable. Goals for the Fruitful Communities initiative include installing Productive Urban Landscapes, green education for young people, and policy recommendations to help urban agriculture and edible landscaping thrive.

For updates regarding the Fruitful Communities initiative, visit

DeKalb County Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry

On Tuesday, April 6, Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at transforming public spaces into regenerative, productive urban landscapes.

The project, called Fruitful Communities, will address food insecurity, food deserts and developing policies that combat climate change at the local level. Commissioner Terry first piloted this program in Clarkston, where he previously served as Mayor. . .

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