A Georgia city council has voted unanimously to require all households in the city to own firearms and ammunition in order to provide for the "emergency management" and "safety, security and general welfare" of the city.
All five city council members in Nelson, Ga. -- a town of about 1,300 located about an hour's drive North of Atlanta -- voted in favor of a resolution called the Family Protection Ordinance Monday night that directs the head of each household to own a gun and ammunition for protection. The law exempts felons and the disabled, and allows anyone who objects to carrying a gun to opt out.
For those reasons council member Duane Cronic insists the vote is ultimately a symbolic gesture, according to the Associated Press.
“I likened it to a security sign that people put up in their front yards,” Cronic said. “Some people have security systems, some people don’t, but they put those signs up. I really felt like this ordinance was a security sign for our city.”
Nelson resident Lamar Kellett was one of only two people who spoke against the proposal during a public comment period Monday night. He insisted the law will have no effect on people like himself, who have no intentions of buying or owning a gun.
Police chief Heath Mitchell supports the resolution, pointing out that the city doesn't have police officers on duty 24 hours a day.
“[Criminals are] going to think twice before they come into Nelson and cause harm or break and entering, commit a theft, any type of criminal activity,” he said. “I know I would if I was a bad guy.”
He believes gun ownership will help residents take responsibility for their own protection. He also acknowledged that the crime rate in the city is low, with the occasional theft or burglary The last homicide? More than five years ago, he says.
Many other residents interviewed by the AP supported the bill
“It’s supporting gun rights flat out, and there is so much — not antipathy — but antagonism against gun ownership these days,” Lawrence Cooper said. “And this is a very conservative small town, and they are fully in support of this.”
The ordinance in Nelson is one of the latest response in backlash to recent proposed gun regulations in the wake of the Newtown school shooting. While other cities have considered similar ordinances, Nelson is the first to institute mandatory gun ownership (even if they don't plan to enforce it). Residents of a small town in Maine rejected a similar proposal last month over fears that it would make their community a laughingstock.