Gun violence and the debate over firearms seems to be front and center, now more than ever before, but one Georgia city has been leading the charge for more than three decades now.
Did you know that every household in Kennesaw is required to have at least one gun?
In 1982 Kennesaw decided to do something that no other city, to their knowledge, had ever done.
“There was a tremendous amount of interest not only locally, nationwide, but worldwide,” said Kennesaw police Lt. Craig Graydon.
The city council unanimously passed the law requiring their residents be armed with a gun and ammo in their house.
“Oh it's great to me because I own guns. I hunt, so for me, as far as my family and my protection, yeah why not,” said Kennesaw resident Pastor Steven Green.
But others disagree.
“That's dangerous. Sometimes people have children and sometimes children get a hold of that loaded gun that might not have a safety on it and it could be dangerous from that point on,” said an unnamed resident.
Graydon said the department is neutral on the law.
“We maintain one of the safest crime rates in metro Atlanta for a city our size, especially when you compare on a population adjusted basis. Our violent crime rate is very low,” said Graydon.
CBS46 Reporter Bobby Kaple: “Do you attribute any of that to this law?”
Graydon: “It probably had some impact. It's always hard to say.”
Rabbi Peter Berg supports the second amendment, but advocates gun control.
“I don't believe that there is any statistic that people are safer in Kennesaw. In fact, I think it's probably the opposite because more people having more guns is neither good for the public nor is it good for gun owners,” said Berg.
So what do the numbers say? Has crime dropped or gone up since the law was enacted?
Police said after a sharp drop at first, crime has leveled off but has remained low for cities this size. They said there is no real way to say one way or the other if the law makes the city safer.
Graydon said no one has ever been prosecuted under the law.
“Even though it was written as an ordinance, it was never intended to be an enforced ordinance. It was intended more as a referendum,” said Graydon.
Police said the number people breaking the gun law is probably as high as 50 percent. Either way, there are no plans to change it.
“I understand the protection part, but I don’t think it should be something mandatory. It should be a choice,” said another unnamed resident.
“If you get your home broken into, it could be your fault for not owning something like that,” said Green.
In 1981, there were 193 burglary and larceny cases in Kennesaw. The following year, the number dropped to 146. Since then, the crime rate on a population adjusted basis as remained about the same.
The most recent data, from 2013, cites 487 cases of burglary and larceny, but keep in mind that the population is now six times larger than it was in 1982.
Nelson, Georgia also tried passing a similar law, but it was retracted after a lawsuit was filed over the handling of their ordinance.
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