In the South: state, local governments say no to gun control laws
Atlanta — Handgun control efforts are running into some ambushes in the South. And a must-own gun ordinance passed recently in a small Georgia town has prompted similar action by a small Pennsylvania town.
In Miami Beach, which is not a typical Southern city, with its heavy infusion of Northern (especially New York) residents, two arms control issues came before the city council this week: nuclear weapons and handguns.
The resolution asking Congress to freeze nuclear arms passed. But for the second time the council deferred action on a ordinance to restrict the carrying of handguns in cars.
In Alabama, Gov. Fob James last week signed legislation blocking local governments from passing any handgun ordinances. Earlier, a handgun control ordinance had been solidly defeated in Montgomery, Ala.
And Franklintown, Pa., last week, decided to follow the lead of Kennesaw, Ga. , by adopting an ordinance requiring citizens to own a gun. Passage of the Franklintown law followed a visit to Kennesaw by Mayor Richard E. Harbold.
''The reason people are opposed is not because they are pro-gun,'' says Thomas Pflaum, assistant attorney for the city of Miami Beach, referring to the handgun-in-car ordinance. Council members expressed concern about the safety of their families and the need they might have for a gun in the car, he says.
The Miami Beach ordinance would have restricted the carrying of handguns to a locked trunk or glove compartment and specified that the weapon had to be disassembled or unloaded. The ordinance was drafted after the state of Florida passed a law, which Mr. Pflaum described as essentially allowing handguns in cars.
The Alabama law prohibiting local gun ordinances passed unanimously in both the state's House and Senate, says Jack Biddle, Democratic chairman of the Alabama House Rules Committee.
''Everybody wants to own a handgun (or have) the right to own one,'' says Mr. Biddle, a gun collector and hunter.
The Franklintown ordinance is ''no good'' and probably unconstitutional, says Richard Moose, pastor at the Franklintown United Brethren Church. The measure will be difficult for elderly residents to abide by, especially ones not wanting to use handguns,
The town has ''no intention of enforcing the ordinance,'' says town solicitor William Shrack III. It was more ''an open statement against gun control,'' he says.