Council members in a city of about 1,300 residents that’s located in Georgia, 50 miles north of Atlanta, voted unanimously to approve the Family Protection Ordinance.
The measure requires everybody in the sity to own a gun and ammunition to “provide for the emergency management of the city” and to “provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants.”
However, convicted felons and those who suffer from certain physical or mental disabilities are not included in the list, as well as those who firmly objects to gun ownership. There’s no penalty for those who don’t comply.
Backers said they wanted to voice their opinion considering gun rights when President Barack Obama and some states are pushing for more restrictions in the wake of the Newtown mass shooting in December that left 20 children and six adults dead.
Councilman Duane Cronic, who become a sponsor of the measure, said he knows the ordinance won’t be enforced but he still believes it will make the town safer, reports ABC News.
“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.”
The city council’s agenda says another purpose of the measure is “opposition of any future attempt by the federal government to confiscate personal firearms.”
Nelson resident Lamar Kellett spoke during a public comment period and opposed the approved Monday measure. Among his many objections, he said it dilutes the city’s laws to pass measures that aren’t intended to be 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.
The town became a center of media attention since the council began discussing the ordinance last month. Councilman Jackie Jarrett said the response to the city’s decision has been overwhelmingly positive.
There were concerns have been raised by people worried about the mentally ill or convicted felons being required to own a gun, but he’s quick to point to the proposed exemptions, he said. By the way, anyone outside of Nelson cares about the ordinance.
“It really has surprised me that we’ve gotten so much attention, especially since this isn’t affecting the world,” he said. “It’s just a small town thing.”
And, as it turns out, it may not affect the town all that much, even though the ordinance is set to go into effect in 10 days: “Most everybody around here’s got guns anyway.”
Leroy Blackwell, 82, has lived in the town for about 50 years and owns a hunting rifle that he keeps in a closet. He’d support the ordinance even if it didn’t have exemptions, but he prefers it to be voluntary, he said.
He went on, adding that even before the council’s decision that he’d rather see the measure put to a popular vote instead. “Really, I think it would be more fair to put it to a vote so everybody could have a say,” he said.