The city council in a small north Georgia town voted Monday night to make gun ownership mandatory - unless you object.
Council members in Nelson, a city of about 1,300 residents that's located 50 miles north of Atlanta, voted unanimously to approve the Family Protection Ordinance. The measure requires every head of household 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."
Not that every household must go out and purchase a firearm.
The ordinance exempts convicted felons and those who suffer from certain physical or mental disabilities, as well as anyone who objects to gun ownership. The ordinance also doesn't include any penalty for those who don't comply.
But backers said they wanted to make a statement about gun rights at a time when President Barack Obama and some states are pushing for more restrictions in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre in December that left 20 children and six educators dead.
Councilman Duane Cronic, who sponsored the measure, said he knows the ordinance won't be enforced but he still believes it will make the town safer.
"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."
The proposal illustrates how the response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre varies widely in different parts of the country.
Among the other efforts to broaden gun rights that have surfaced since the Newtown killings:
_ Earlier Monday, lawmakers in Oklahoma scuttled a bill that would have allowed public school districts to decide whether to let teachers be armed.
_ Spring City, Utah, passed an ordinance this year recommending that residents keep firearms, softening an initial proposal that aimed to require it.
_ Residents of tiny Byron, Maine, rejected a proposal last month that would have required a gun in every home. Even some who initially supported the measure said it should have recommended gun ownership instead of requiring it, and worried that the proposal had made the community a laughingstock. Selectmen of another Maine town, Sabbatus, threw out a similar measure. The state's attorney general said state law prevents municipalities from passing their own firearms laws anyway.
_ Lawmakers in about two dozen states have considered making it easier for school employees or volunteers to carry guns on campus. South Dakota passed such a measure last month. Individual communities from New Jersey to Colorado have voted to allow administrators or teachers to carry guns in school. The Huffington Post