The Nelson, Georgia City Council passed a law in April of this year that requires every head of household to own a gun and ammunition. The ordinance provides exceptions that include felons, the disabled, and conscientious objectors to gun ownership due to religious beliefs. After the ordinance was enacted, the city’s police chief stated that the requirement was intended to be a warning to potential burglars.
In reality, guns in the home pose a far greater risk to those who live in the home than to would-be criminals. Living in a home where guns are kept increases the risk that someone in the home will become a victim of a homicide by as much as 170% and of suicide by up to 460%.1 And, the risk of dying from an unintentional shooting is 3.7 times higher for adults living in homes with guns.2 The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance.
Another Georgia community, the town of Kennesaw, enacted a similar ordinance in 1982. Towns in Maine and Utah attempted, but failed, to enact similar measures this year.
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- Garen J. Wintemute, Guns, Fear, the Constitution, and the Public’s Health, 358 New England J. Med. 1421-1424 (April 3, 2008), at http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/NEJMp0800859. ⤴︎
- Douglas J. Wiebe, Firearms in U.S. Homes as a Risk Factor for Unintentional Gunshot Fatality, 35 Accident Analysis & Prevention 711, 713-14 (2003) (finding the relative risk of dying from an unintentional gunshot injury to be 3.7 times higher for adults living in homes with guns). ⤴︎