A tiny Georgia town recently passed an ordinance requiring all heads of the household to own a gun and ammunition to help protect the roughly 1,300 residents and maintain “the general welfare.” Now, a national anti-firearm advocacy group is suing, claiming that the law is unconstitutional.
The city council of Nelson passed the Family Protection Ordinance on April 1, according to The Huffington Post, with the intention to “provide for the emergency management of the city’ and “provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants.” The law exempts convicted felons, those who can’t afford a gun and sufferers of certain physical and mental conditions along with anyone who refuses to own a firearm on religious or moral grounds.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in May filed a federal lawsuit against Nelson, claiming the recently adopted ordinance is unconstitutional.
"We definitely think this law is misguided and unconstitutional in Nelson and anywhere else where it's passed," said lawyer Jonathan Lowy of the Washington-based Brady Center to The Huffington Post. "But it's also important to send a message to other jurisdictions around the country that might be inclined to pass similar misguided, unconstitutional laws."
However “city leaders and the police chief, who's the only police officer in town, said during the meeting when the ordinance was passed that they had no intention of enforcing it," The Huffington Post reported. "It was meant to warn would-be burglars and to send a message to the federal government about gun ownership."
"I don't think there was ever any intention of the city of Nelson to enforce the ordinance," said David Archer, a lawyer for the city. "I think it was a political statement that they made.”
Even so, some residents of Nelson are not buying it. Lamar Kellett, who is a member of the Brady Center, spoke against the ordinance and said he doesn't qualify for the law's exemptions because “he doesn't conscientiously oppose gun ownership – he just doesn't want to own one.”
"How does a citizen like myself know that that will be true in the future or even next week?" Kellett told The Huffington Post.