Nelson, Georgia will now require all heads of household to own a gun...if they want to. PHOTO: Infrogmation, Wikimedia Commons
Nelson, a Georgia town of 1,300 people, wants to take the gun debate in the opposite direction from Colorado and Connecticut: they passed a law requiring that all heads of household own a gun. The law is entirely symbolic. Residents can opt out if they disapprove of gun ownership, and the law won't be enforced. It's really a resolution pretending to be a law, but it's getting attention, which is most of the point.The ordinance was sponsored by Councilman Duane Cronic, who sees value in the law's symbolism:
"I likened it to a security sign that people put up in their front yards. Some people have security systems, some people don't, but they put those signs up," he said. "I really felt like this ordinance was a security sign for our city. Basically it was a deterrent ordinance to tell potential criminals they might want to go on down the road a little bit."
Lamar Kellett, a Nelson resident who spoke up during a public comment period, worried that passing laws that won't be enforced dilutes the power of laws that are enforced:
"Does this mean now 55 miles an hour speed limit means 65, 80, whatever you choose? There's not a whole lot of difference. A law's a law," he said. Kellett also pointed out that people who didn't want a gun wouldn't want anymore than they used to.
Kellett's words fell on deaf ears: the Family Protection Ordinance passed unanimously.