A Nelson, Georgia ordinance passed in April that made it mandatory for all Nelson households to own a gun was struck down on Thursday.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence sued Nelson after the measure, known as the Family Protection Ordinance, was passed, arguing that requiring gun ownership violated constitutional rights. This week, Nelson settled the suit and its city council voted unanimously to amend the law.
“The Constitution protects not just the right to bear arms, but the right not to bear arms,” said Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center. “The Brady Center brought this lawsuit to establish that the Constitution protects the rights of gun owners and non-gun owners alike, and all of us must be respectful of each other’s rights. We are pleased that as a result of our lawsuit the City of Nelson has recognized that the Second Amendment protects the rights of the hundreds of millions of Americans who believe that the best way to keep themselves and their families safe is by keeping guns out of the homes.”
The Family Protection Ordinance required all heads of households within Nelson city limits to own a firearm and ammunition. However, both critics and proponents of the ordinance agreed that it would likely be very difficult to uphold. Written exceptions to the law included individuals who “suffer from a physical or mental disability,” “paupers,” convicted felons, and individuals who “conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine.”
Lamar Kellett, a Brady Center member and resident of Nelson, expressed his approval of the amendments.
“I am glad an acceptable solution has been reached and feel that those Nelson residents that wish to keep home protection a private matter will be pleased with this outcome,” he said.