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Georgia town passes law requiring citizens to own guns and ammo

The city council in Nelson, Georgia, unanimously approves ordinance that requires gun ownership in each household. WXIA's Jon Shirek reports.

A Georgia town has passed a law requiring its citizens to own a gun and ammunition — a measure one councilman says is similar to putting a security sign in your front yard to deter criminals.

The ordinance in the town of Nelson, population 1,300, contains no penalties, has exemptions for felons and the mentally ill and allows anyone to opt out. Town leaders said they wanted to make a point about gun rights.

The law requires the head of every household to own a gun and ammo to “provide for the emergency management of the city” and “provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants.”

The law is also meant to pre-empt any future attempt by the federal government to confiscate guns, according to the council’s agenda.

“Some people have security systems, some people don’t, but they put those signs up,” Councilman Duane Cronic said. “I really felt like this ordinance was a security sign for our city.”

Johnny Clark / AP

In a this image made from video, the Nelson, Ga., council meets Monday to vote on a mandatory gun ownership ordinance for all heads of household.

The ordinance passed 5-0 on Monday night and takes effect in 10 days. Nelson is about 50 miles north of Atlanta.

Heath Mitchell, the only police officer in town, said that Nelson is far from the two nearest sheriff’s offices, and that having a gun would help people protect themselves.

Lamar Kellett, who lives in Nelson and spoke against the law at a hearing Monday, said the town would never pass a speed limit and allow people to flout it. He said the ordinance was pointless.

“People who want a gun, they already have one probably,” he told WXIA, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta. “There’s been no violent crime in Nelson in the past 10 years. So how are you going to improve on no violent crime?”

The measure is modeled after a law adopted in 1982 by Kennesaw, another Atlanta suburb. Police there acknowledge that they haven’t tried to enforce it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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