There’s a Mandatory Gun Ownership Law in Kennesaw, Georgia-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Kennesaw, a small town in Georgia, passed a mandatory gun ownership law in 1982 that requires the head of every household there to own a gun.
This one is mostly true, but some of the details are false.
Claims about the mandatory gun ownership law in Kennesaw have been making the rounds on social media sites for years. Kennesaw often comes up in debates over whether guns make communities safer or less safe.
A Facebook page titled, “Safest City in America … City of Kennesaw, Georgia,” makes a number of claims about the mandatory gun law and the city’s crime rates that are frequently used in these debates. Naturally, these claims are true, false and combination of the two.
First, let’s start with the facts.
Kennesaw, a suburb of Atlanta with a population of about 32,000, has had a mandatory gun ownership ordinance on the books since 1982. The law grants exceptions for convicted felons, contentious objectors and those who can’t afford guns — but that’s beside the point. The ordinance is symbolic and has never been enforced.
When the mandatory gun law was passed in 1982, gun ownership levels there were around 70%. Today, about 50% of the households in Kennesaw own at least one gun, Kennesaw Police Lt. Craig Graydon said.
Graydon said nobody has ever been arrested for failing to own a gun, but he believes the mandatory gun ownership law has led to a drop in crime, Reuters reports:
“When the law was passed in 1982 there was a substantial drop in crime … and we have maintained a really low crime rate since then,” said police Lt. Craig Graydon. “We are sure it is one of the lowest (crime) towns in the metro area.
It’s true that Kennesaw is one of the safest cities in the metro Atlanta area. But let’s take a look at a number of specific claims that are frequently made when it comes to crime and gun ownership in Kennesaw.
Kennesaw is the Safest City in America – Fiction!
Kennesaw isn’t the safest city in America.
The crime index in Kennesaw is 39, which means that it’s safer than 39% of cities in the U.S. One out of every 762 people in Kennesaw are victims of violent crime, and one out of every 49 people are victims of property crime, according to the website Neighborhood Scout.
Kennesaw is Among the Safest Cities in Suburban Atlanta-Truth!
Kennesaw is one of the safest cities surrounding Atlanta — but it’s not the safest.
Let’s look at other suburban communities. In Marietta, the crime index is 7. One out of every 129 people there are victims of violent crime, and one out of 23 are victims of property crime. In Alpharetta, meanwhile, the crime index is 39. One out of every 1,093 people there are victims of violent crime, and one out of every 48 people are victims of property crime.
So, compared to other cities in Atlanta, Kennesaw is among the safest.
There Hasn’t Been a Murder in Kennesaw Since the Mandatory Gun Law Took Effect-Fiction!
This claim is false.
There aren’t many murders in Kennesaw, but there have been a handful of them over the years. There was one murder in Kennesaw in 2003, 2004 and 2014, for example.
Also, in April 2014, the city drew national headlines after a FedEx employee stormed a company warehouse and shot six people before ending his own life. Two of them suffered life-threatening injuries, ABC News reports.
On May 1, 1982 the city passed an ordinance [Sec 34-1a] requiring every head of household to maintain a firearm together with ammunition. It was passed partly in response to a 1981 handgun ban in Morton Grove, Illinois. Kennesaw’s law was amended in 1983 to exempt those who conscientiously object to owning a firearm, convicted felons, those who cannot afford a firearm, and those with a mental or physical disability that would prevent them from owning a firearm.
Reports of resulting burglary-rate statistics:
Gary Kleck, a criminologist and gun-control critic attributes a drop of 89% in the residential burglary rate to the law. Kennesaw is often cited by advocates of gun ownership as evidence that gun ownership deters crime. (see, for instance, this 2004 sheet of talking points from the Gun Owners of America). Others have challenged this conclusion, however, citing data showing that the number of burglaries in the 10 years spanning the passing of the ordinance remains roughly the same, while burglaries dropped in the city of Morton Grove following their gun ban. These statistics are in turn disputed because the report in question lacked important considerations such as proportions for the population and growth over time.
Current statistics indicate that Kennesaw’s crime rate is lower compared to surrounding cities like Marietta, Smyrna, Alpharetta, or Atlanta.
In fact, more than 25 years after the ban, not a single resident of Kennesaw has been involved in a fatal shooting – as a victim, attacker or defender. There has been one firearm related murder but not from a resident of Kennesaw. Since the ordinance, no child has ever been injured with a firearm in Kennesaw. Crime dropped after the ordinance and the city has maintained an exceptionally low crime rate ever since, even with the population swelling from 5,000 in 1982 to approximately 30,000 today. The truth is crime has plummeted and population has soared.