Kennesaw, GA – While critics have been demanding more gun control and fewer weapons in American homes, a town in Georgia that requires citizens to own a gun can boast about the fact it has only had one murder in the last six years.
Kennesaw, Georgia is an Atlanta suburb where the local law says “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm,” according to CNN.
“If you’re going to commit a crime in Kennesaw and you’re the criminal – are you going to take a chance that that homeowner is a law-abiding citizen?” Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling asked.
The town of 33,000 residents, which lies 27 miles northwest of Atlanta, has a violent crime rate of less than two percent.
Kennesaw’s only murder in six years made international news when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility on April 29, 2014, according to the city’s website.
Geddy Kramer, 19, shot and killed himself after shooting and wounding six people at the shipping company. The gunman himself was the single “homicide victim.”
Wayne Arnold, a Kennesaw citizen, told CNN he has an AR-15-style .223 caliber rifle, and a variety of handguns and more at his home.
“It gives me the ability to protect myself as opposed to being somewhere where you weren’t allowed to have a firearm or it was frowned upon,” Arnold said.
The mayor said most visitors are surprised at what they find in Kennesaw.
“The first thing that most people say when they meet us, you know as a community is ‘oh, it’s not what I expected,'” Easterling said. “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.”
“People kind of get the image that it’s the Wild West, where everybody walks around with a firearm strapped to their side, and it’s not like that,” Arnold said. “It’s strictly a home defense system type of deal. There’s no shootouts down the street.”
The law dates back to 1982, but police said it’s not actually enforced.
“It was meant to be kind of a crime deterrent,” Kennesaw Police Lieutenant Craig Graydon, a 30-year veteran of the department, told CNN.
“It was also more or less a political statement because the city of Morton Grove, Illinois, passed a city ordinance banning handguns from their city limits,” Lt. Graydon explained.
He said the law requiring guns was a popular topic of conversation.
“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,” Lt. Graydon said.
“So that’s been somewhat of a benefit to us,” he said.
The city of Nelson, Georgia, passed a similar ordinance in 2013, the New York Daily News reported.
The law in Nelson, located 32 miles north of Kennesaw, requires every head of the household to own a gun and ammunition. However, the ordinance doesn’t have any penalties for those who ignore it, and exempts anyone who objects.
“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,” the law’s original author, Nelson City Councilman Duane Cronic, told the New York Daily News.