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In the wake of the recent school shooting, which has, for now, revitalized the undying gun control debate, a town in Georgia is getting a lot of attention for its unique take on firearms laws. In Kennesaw, Georgia, local law mandates that “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm.”
An Unenforced Law as a Political Statement
Lt. Craig Graydon, who has been with the police department for more than 30 years, told CNN that the ordinance is “more or less a political statement” and that they don’t actually enforce it. Evidently, Morton Grove, Illinois banned handguns from their city limits back in 1982. In response, Kennesaw banned not owning guns. Of course, it was also intended to act as something of a deterrent to crime.
But Does It Work?
At the time of the law’s passing, Kennesaw had something like one tenth of its current population. Today, as a city of about 33,000 residents, Kennesaw has had only a single murder in the last six years and maintains a violent crime rate below 2%.
Graydon cautions against looking at this regulation as the only contributing factor in the miraculously low crime rate; he says that city officials maintain a good relationship with the community, which also plays a vital role in that statistic.
However, it seems silly to disregard the rule. While it’s not enforced, the law does seem to be widely obeyed – and that has to give would-be criminals pause. After all, Mayor Derek Easterling made a good point:
“If you’re going to commit a crime in Kennesaw and you’re the criminal – are you going to take a chance that that homeowner is a law-abiding citizen?”
An Unenforceable Law
It’s not likely that the city could get away with enforcing that law even if they wanted to. The Second Amendment clearly states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed – and there’s no except clause included. Infringed, for those of you who don’t know, means to act so as to limit or undermine, or to encroach on. In other words, anything that limits the people – any people – from exercising their right to keep and bear arms – any arms – is unconstitutional.
Yep, that’s right – those laws that prohibit the discharge of firearms inside the city limits are unconstitutional, as are the ones that establish gun-free zones. For that matter, so is the 1968 law that prohibited felons from buying firearms and stopped the buying of guns from mail order catalogs – and don’t forget that other one that bars folks from owning fully automatic weapons.
But the right to choose to do something is also the right to choose not to. Just as you aren’t legally required to say what’s on your mind, you also can’t be forced to carry a gun (aside from Selective Service, that is). While the police don’t try to force guns on the citizens of Kennesaw, one must wonder – thanks to CNN’s coverage and the recent school shootings – if the law won’t be challenged by anti-gunners from outside the city in the near future. How long before the likes of Vox and Salon vilify the citizens of Kennesaw as gun toting rednecks, just waiting to shoot someone?
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