Gun Ownership

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Gun Ownership - It's the Law In Kennesaw
By Jonathan Hamilton and David Burch
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writers
KENNESAW, Ga - Several Kennesaw officials attribute a drop in crime in the city over the past two decades to a law that requires residents to have a gun in the house. In 1982, the Kennesaw City Council unanimously passed a law requiring heads of households to own at least one firearm with ammunition. The ordinance states the gun law is needed to "protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants." Then-councilman J.O. Stephenson said after the ordinance was passed, everyone "went crazy." "People all over the country said there would be shootings in the street and violence in homes," he said. "Of course, that wasn't the case." In fact, according to Stephenson, it caused the crime rate in the city to plunge. Kennesaw Historical Society president Robert Jones said following the law's passage, the crime rate dropped 89 percent in the city, compared to the modest 10 percent drop statewide. "It did drop after it was passed," he said. "After it initially dropped, it has stayed at the same low level for the past 16 years." Mayor Leonard Church was not in office when the law was passed, but he said he is a staunch supporter of it. "You can't argue with the fact that Kennesaw has the lowest crime rate of any city our size in the country," said Church, who owns a denture-making company in Kennesaw. The author of the ordinance, local attorney Fred Bentley Sr., attributes at least some of the decrease in crime to the bill. "I am definitely in favor of what we did," he said. "It may not be totally responsible for the decrease, [but] it is a part." Although he is pleased with the outcome, Bentley said he was originally opposed to drafting the law. "I didn't think it could be written in a constitutional fashion," he said. "Obviously, it was constitutional, because the American Civil Liberties Union challenged it in court and we...
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