Opinion editor's note: This is an excerpt of an editorial published on the front pages of the print and digital editions of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday — four days after a mass shooting in that city's midtown area.

We don't have to live in fear of visiting the doctor, or taking a trip to the supermarket, or sending our children to school.

We don't have to duck and cover. Our children don't have to participate in lockdown drills.

We don't have to sit and watch our streets turn into a combat zone on live television.

We don't have to mourn a 38-year-old mother who devoted her career to public health.

We don't have to pray all night that four other women fighting for their lives will survive.

We don't have to debate whether guns kill people or people kill people. (They both do.)

We don't have to argue about whether mental health is a crisis in this country.

But we do live this way.

We live with the terrifying reality that no place in our city is safe from the threat of gun violence.

Except one place: Georgia's State Capitol building.

Under the Gold Dome, you are not permitted to carry firearms. There are metal detectors at the few entrances where citizens can access the building. You walk through them only after you clear the 8-foot-high steel fence that rings the Capitol.

So, while you can walk into a medical office or a market or a gas station with a gun, you can't carry a firearm under the Gold Dome.

Every time we watch a gut-wrenching mass shooting unfold, we ask, "What can we do to ensure no city ever again endures the pain Atlanta suffered on Wednesday?"

There is a simple answer: We can change the laws.

But the people responsible for changing the laws in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp and the state legislature, aren't concerned for their own safety when they leave for work in the morning the way the rest of us are.

If they were, they would change the laws.

While we don't know how the accused Midtown shooter came to possess the handgun, Wednesday's shooting was another grim reminder that the laws currently in place failed us — again.

This year, in the Georgia General Assembly, proposals to require background checks and a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm were, in effect, ignored. So, too, were bills that would have tightened guidelines around how guns can be stored.

The Legislature even failed to vote on a measure that would have instituted stricter punishments for negligent gun owners whose weapons fall into the hands of unsupervised children.

What have we gotten instead?

Last year, Gov. Kemp signed a bill that allows people to carry concealed guns without a permit. And in recent years, our lawmakers in Georgia have allowed people to carry guns on college campuses, public parks, bars and churches.

All of this has happened as the country grappled with a surge in gun violence, as more and more people coped with issues with their mental health, and as mass shootings occurred with alarming frequency.

We agree with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who said, "While we respect the rights conveyed by the Second Amendment, we also need more actions to protect the rights of our citizens to go about their lives."

And with State Sen. Josh McLaurin, a Democrat from Atlanta, who was meeting a friend for lunch next door to the building where the shootings happened. He remained there with 20 to 30 other customers and employees under lockdown until late afternoon.

"We don't have to live like this," he wrote in a tweet.

And yet, we do, even though common-sense measures would save lives, ensuring that guns only be used safely and responsibly — and by responsible people.