Do guns make Georgia cities safer? - CBS46 News

Do guns make Georgia cities safer?

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As the gun control debate rages on, a Georgia city, once again, finds itself in the crosshairs.

In Kennesaw, a city ordinance requires every head of household to own a gun, but does that make Kennesaw safer or more dangerous?

CBS Atlanta News compared Kennesaw to two other metro Atlanta cities, Newnan and Lawrenceville.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, all three cities are similar in population, median household income and ethnic make-up. They are also approximately the same distance from Atlanta with about the same number of police officers patrolling the streets.

So which community is safer, and what role do guns play?

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2010, which displayed the newest complete set of numbers, Kennesaw reported 21 violent crimes in 2010.

In that same time period, Lawrenceville recorded 98 and Newnan had 131 violent crimes.

Kennesaw also reported a fraction of the number of robberies, aggravated assaults and burglaries.

Many Kennesaw residents attributed those low numbers to a 1982 gun ordinance requiring every head of household to have a gun.

While police don't enforce the ordinance, they estimated that about 60 percent of residents pack heat.

"I certainly would like to hope it contributes to the low crime rate," said Stephanie Frazier, who has lived in Kennesaw for nearly seven years and thinks the ordinance makes a difference in her community.

However, Dr. Joseph Corrado, an assistant professor of political science at Clayton State University, disagreed.

Corrado studied the topic extensively and said Kennesaw would have a low crime rate, regardless of the ordinance, because it was a fairly safe area to begin with. He said if a similar gun ordinance came to fruition in a city with high crime, such as Philadelphia, the story would read differently.

"If you passed a gun ordinance requiring everyone to have a gun there, I would guess the crime rates would tick up some," Corrado said. "In an area that's already safe, the impact may go any other direction, if you will."

But Kennesaw police spokesman Lt. Craig Graydon told CBS Atlanta News that he doesn't entirely agree.

"It has brought a lot of attention to crime prevention and issues along with crime, so there probably is some positive impact," Graydon said. "It's just hard to say how much."

But one Kennesaw resident, afraid to use her real name, said she knows the ordinance works. She told CBS Atlanta News that when a man cornered her in a secluded work storage area and kept inching closer, she felt her life was in danger. She said he finally left her alone when she revealed her Smith and Wesson revolver.

"That guy could have easily overpowered me; I know he had that intention," she said. "Had I not had that gun… I will use every tool necessary, not to hurt you, but to protect myself and to protect others."

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