What would you think of a law that required you to own a gun for home defense? Would you agree with it? Would it make you worry about the possibility of random shootings and an increase in gun violence? There is a city in Cobb County, Georgia, near Atlanta’s metropolitan area, with just such a law.
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.
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.
In 1982, the Kennesaw City Council passed this law, unanimously, which required the head of each household to own at least one firearm with ammunition. The ordinance states that the gun law is needed to “protect the safety, security, and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants”.
When the law was first passed people all over the country went crazy. They said there would be shootings and violence…of course the reality of it was very different. Robert Jones, president of the Kennesaw Historical Society, stated that after the passage of the law, crime rate dropped 89% in the city, compared to the 10% drop statewide. And not only did it initially drop, but it has stayed at the same low level for the past 16 years, making it the city with the lowest crime rate of any city its size in the country.
Kennesaw Police Department shows 243 property crimes per 100,000 residents, while Decatur, a city with similar population, recorded 4,049 property crimes/100,000 residents in 1998. In 2007 it was estimated that the annual number of murders was 0.19, armed robberies 1.69, residential burglaries 31.63, commercial burglaries 19.75, and rapes 2 between 1982 and 1998. In 2001, violent crime rates in Kennesaw were about 85% below the national and state rates.
In spite of the great success in decreasing crime rates, this law was not entirely intended to do that. The last was passed partially in response to a law passed in Morton Grove, Illinois which outlawed gun ownership within the city limits.
Another interesting fact is that this law has not limited the city’s growth, or deterred anyone from moving to Kennesaw. The population has increased just like other cities in Georgia, reaching about 30,000 residents. Not only that but just this year a small town in Georgia, Nelson has passed a mandatory gun-ownership law modeled on the one
of Kennesaw. Similar to the Kennesaw law, there are broad exemptions from this law, and no clause for the penalty in case of violations. Spring City, Utah, a town of about 1,000 people, also passed an ordinance earlier this year recommending that every household own a gun.
So why do we not hear about these cities in the news? Could it be that they don’t want us to realize that guns are not evil, and can serve as a tool for the law abiding citizen? I believe that by simply looking at these statistics, and not at the opinion of this person or that person, one can logically conclude that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens do serve an importance purpose.