Georgia city requires gun ownership in all households after new ordinance

Georgia city requires gun ownership: While lawmakers in generally more liberal states with large urban centers like New York and California have moved to tighten gun control laws in the wake of the massacre, more conservative, rural areas in the American heartland have been going in the opposite direction, arguing that guns keep people safer.

Johnny Clark/AP
In a photo made from video the Nelson, Ga. City Council meets to vote on a mandatory gun ownership ordinance for all heads-of-household, April 1, in Nelson Ga. Left to right: Council member Jackie Jarrett, Mayor Mike Haviland, council member Duane Cronic, council member Edith Portillo, city attorney Jeff Rusbridge.

Backers of a newly adopted ordinance requiring gun ownership in a small U.S. town acknowledge they were largely seeking to make a point about the right to bear arms in the wake of a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 children and educators dead.

While lawmakers in generally more liberal states with large urban centers like New York and California have moved to tighten gun control laws in the wake of the massacre, more conservative, rural areas in the American heartland have been going in the opposite direction, arguing that guns keep people safer.

The ordinance in the city of Nelson, Georgia — population 1,300 — was approved Monday night and goes into effect in 10 days. However, it contains no penalties and exempts anyone who objects, convicted felons and those with certain mental and physical disabilities.

Fears of a government crackdown on gun sales have prompted a few communities around the United States to "require" or recommend their residents arm themselves, reflecting a growing divide in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

Council members in Nelson, a small city located 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Atlanta, voted unanimously to approve the Family Protection Ordinance. The measure requires every head of household to own a gun and ammunition to "provide for the emergency management of the city" and to "provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants."

City Councilman Duane Cronic, who sponsored the measure, said he knows the ordinance won't be enforced but he still believes it will make the town safer.

"I likened it to a security sign that people put up in their front yards. Some people have security systems, some people don't, but they put those signs up," he said. "I really felt like this ordinance was a security sign for our city."

Nelson resident Lamar Kellett — one of two people who opposed the ordinance during a public comment period Monday — said it dilutes the city's laws to pass measures that aren't intended to be enforced.

Kellett also said the ordinance will have no effect, that it won't encourage people like him who don't want agun to go out and buy one.

Police Chief Heath Mitchell noted that the city doesn't have police officers who work 24 hours a day and is far from the two sheriff's offices that might send deputies in case of trouble, so response times to emergency calls can be long. Having a gun would help residents take their protection into their own hands, he said.

But the chief — the town's sole police officer — acknowledged the crime rate is very low. He mostly sees minor property thefts and a burglary every few months. The most recent homicide was more than five years ago, he said.

The ordinance is modeled after a similar one adopted in 1982 by Kennesaw, an Atlanta suburb. City officials there worried at the time that growth in Atlanta might bring crime to the community, which now has about 30,000 residents. Kennesaw police have acknowledged that their ordinance is difficult to enforce, and they haven't made any attempt to do so.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.