Supporters of one Georgia town’s extreme stance on gun ownership are pointing to results more than three decades later as anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness.
According to WNEP, a local ordinance in Kennesaw requires “every head of household residing in the city limits … to maintain a firearm.”
Police are quick to point out that while the law exists on the books, it would never be enforced on a resident who chooses not to keep a gun in the home.
Instead, Kennesaw Police Lt. Craig Graydon described it as “more or less a political statement” passed in 1982 in response to a law in Morton Grove, Illinois, that banned its citizens from possessing handguns.
“It was meant to be kind of a crime deterrent,” he said.
Defenders of the law say that is exactly what it has become, pointing to local crime statistics such as a violent crime rate under 2 percent and the fact that the town of roughly 33,000 has recorded just one murder in the past six years.
Graydon is not willing to give too much credit to the ordinance, saying that it “may be part” of the community’s overall crime rate, but is only one of the numerous factors.
“We can’t say that just that gun law contributes X number of percent to why we have a low crime rate,” he said.
During a recent Fox News Channel interview, Mayor Derek Easterling agreed, suggesting that the law provides “something for a potential criminal to think about,” but it just a “small piece” of the city’s overall strategy for preventing crime.
“It’s hard to say what the gun law does specifically for our crime rate because I think it has to be looked at as a collaborative piece with our community engagement, with how well our police force does with that aspect of our policing,” he said.
When asked whether he believes other cities should pass similar laws, Easterling said that depends entirely on the community.
“I think the elected officials need to listen to the people and if that’s what they’re asking for, then that’s what they need to do,” he said. “But it has to be right for the community. It isn’t me dictating, it’s not another elected official dictating, it’s all about what does the community want.”
The law has proven compatible with many Kennesaw residents, including Wayne Arnold.
He said such an ordinance gives him the confidence to know that he can be armed “as opposed to being somewhere where you weren’t allowed to have a firearm or it was frowned upon.”
Both Grayson and Easterling said publicity amid an ongoing national gun debate has become an unintended consequence, for better or worse.
“We get a lot of calls, conversation, and it seems to keep crime control, gun safety, things like that on the minds of many of the residents because people are constantly talking about the gun law,” Grayson said.
The mayor added that it has given locals a chance to break through some stereotypes.
“I don’t know what they expect of people who arm themselves with guns at home, or what they’re looking for, but really we’re not that,” he said.
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