Nelson, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, is known as the birthplace of Claude Akins, and not much else. But it is about to get famous (or infamous, depending upon your point of view). The city council is considering an ordinance that would require every homeowner to own a firearm.
The reason: simple mathematics. According to councilman Duane Cronic, because the city (the word city might be an exaggeration as the town’s population is only 1,314) only has one police officer and he’s on duty for 8 hours every day. That leaves 16 hours when he is off duty. Cronic says that it there’s an emergency when he’s off duty, a call to the county sheriff will not help much: “It takes a while for them to get here,” says Cronic.
The language closely resembles that of Kennesaw, Georgia, where everyone is armed by law, and which has enjoyed not only the notoriety but lower crime rates as well. Back in 1982 Kennesaw had a population of about 5,000 (today it’s closer to 35,000) and nearly everyone carried a firearm, so the ordinance, designed to “protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants,” was mostly symbolic. Fred Bentley, the lawyer who drafted the law, said “It was official, but we were protesting as much as anything.”
They were protesting the ordinance passed by Morton Grove, Illinois in 1981 prohibiting the possession of a handgun by its citizens. That ban stood until 2008 when the city council dropped it as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. Robert Jones, president of the Kennesaw Historical Society, remembers “the slobbering way that the press portrayed the [Morton Grove] law as ‘taking a stand’ against evil handguns.”
It also seems to have deterred criminals. Kennesaw’s crime rate, already low when the law was passed, has stayed low, far lower than surrounding communities. Craig Graydon, a police officer in Kennesaw for 24 years said that “firearms are involved in less than 2 percent of the crime around here. If nothing else, it draws a lot of attention to the importance of crime prevention.”
It also is going to draw a lot of attention by the media who, no doubt, will have their own spin on the matter. Sleepy little Nelson, Georgia is about to become famous, or infamous, as the battle over gun ownership continues.