I learned by watching Bill Maher, that not one, but two towns in Georgia have laws requiring – requiring – heads of households to own a gun. Kennesaw, GA has had its law on the books since 1982. In a city of almost 30,000 people, the following law states:
(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.
(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.
After learning of this, several pressing issues weighed on my mind.
1. Section (a) is rendered completely useless and unenforceable by section (b.) You are exempt from having to own a firearm if you “conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine.” So, in other words, if you don’t wanna, you don’t hafta.
2. We still write laws with the word “pauper” in it?
3. What a relief it must be to felons in Kennesaw to learn that they won’t be required to own a gun!
4. Silly girl. This is 32+-year-old news. Lots of places have lots of dumb laws to which zero attention is paid. You’d think that, right? Except…
…this very year, the town of Nelson, Georgia (population 1,300) passed its own version of this mandatory gun ownership law. Don’t worry, though, the police department in the town doesn’t plan to enforce it. It was intended to be symbolic. Symbolic of what? Why, symbolic of support for Second Amendment rights, of course! According to Nelson’s Police Chief Heath Mitchell:
I think y’all are showing the people that you’re in full support of the Constitution,” Mitchell said. “And as far as the Second Amendment goes, that you stand behind it, you stand behind people’s rights.
One council member, Dominic Cronic, stated it is merely a “deterrent ordinance.” Something to make a criminal think twice before breaking into your home. Like a fake ADT sign.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to the rescue! Someone there had the good sense to challenge the law no one intended to enforce. Nelson’s Council said, “Okay, okay, we’ll nullify the ordinance. Sheesh, can’t you gun control freaks take a joke?” (I’m just kidding – that’s not a real quote – but it may as well be.)
The City accepted the Brady Center’s position that the United States Constitution protects the rights of Americans who choose to keep their homes free of firearms… . “Today’s agreement sends a message to residents of communities across the country that their Constitutional liberties will be protected: they do not need to worry that their local government will invade their privacy or their pocketbooks by forcing them to buy guns … .”
Thank goodness. These good people in Nelson, Georgia won’t actually be forced to buy guns. As you were, citizens.
Gun control advocates are often accused (sometimes rightly) of attempting to pass laws that in many situations, can’t be enforced and won’t deter crime. Well, it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones. I’m not sure which is worse, though: that some towns in this country think it’s a good idea to arm all its citizens or that they pass laws they openly state they have no intention of enforcing.
(This article was originally published at The Broad Side on September 20, 2013.)