Monday, April 8, 2013

Georgia on My (And Out of Its) Mind

There's a national "conversation" happening right now, and it's all about GUNS! Popular topics of the gun conversation include "high cap" ammo clips, that wackadoodle guy from the NRA, and even the "Bushmaster," which despite what you'd expect is a powerful semi-automatic rifle and not a professional-grade personal grooming device.

As if all that wasn't enough, the conversation has just become even more interesting wackadoodle! Defending the right to bear arms has long been a concern for many citizens, but thanks to a new law passed by a wee town in Georgia our right to NOT bear arms is under attack. I do declare!

Backers of a newly adopted ordinance requiring gun ownership in a small north Georgia town acknowledge they were largely seeking to make a point about gun rights.

The ordinance in the city of Nelson — population 1,300 — was approved Monday night and goes into effect in 10 days. However, it contains no penalties and exempts anyone who objects, convicted felons and those with certain mental and physical disabilities.

Well oh my gravy! The wanna-be-big-government city council of the tiny town of Nelson, GA, which has a population smaller than that of a New York City rush-hour subway train, has made it mandatory for the head of every household to own a firearm. Here's the text of the law on the town's website. My heavens!

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain and firearm, together with ammunition therefor.

Now I'm just a simple boy who doesn't know enough about laws and such to make any kind of judgment about the Constitutionality of dictating such a thing, but I’m pretty sure that mandating gun ownership for the residents of a town with almost no crime—and claiming it necessary for "the general safety of the city"falls under the legal category of “assinine.” In their ample wisdom, though, the Nelson council members have minimized the likelihood of blowback; usually it takes an effort from the NRA to kneecap a gun law, but in this case the drafters have made the ordnance-themed ordinance self-negating with the inclusion of a second provision:

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm.  Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

Those exempt from the law include criminals, the insane, the disabled, and—thoughtfully—paupers! According to the internet, this is what a pauper looks like:

By a strange coincidence, that's how I've always pictured everyone who lives in Georgia. But then again, I'm a terrible person.

Anyway, along with those protected classes, included in the exempt category are dwellers of Nelson with conscientious objections. Objections may be based on religious doctrine, or on, well, just beliefs. With a definition that broad, if you live in Nelson and you ever find yourself hauled in front of the city council for failure to pack heat, you will be excused from the requirement just by adhering to any conviction from "I think guns are bad" to "I believe that you can go fuck yourself." Put simply, Nelsonites can ignore the gun requirement altogether as long as they believe that it shouldn't apply to them, much like pedestrians in New York City aren't held accountable to street signs or signal lights simply because they do not believe in traffic. 

My personal belief is that this whole thing is moronic, but even so I have to applaud the Nelson council members for staying committed. Sure, they snuck in a clause that makes their new law moot, but by going through the motions of spelling out all the other grounds for exemption they've done an admirable job of keeping up the pretense that this endeavor is actually serious.

Nelson City Council Member Duane Cronic engages in the serious procedural business of passing a silly law.

Still, by their own admission, the point of passing this law isn’t really to have a law. It’s to make a statement, or a point about our rights, or something. I can’t figure out what comment they intended to make about gun laws, but if any statement comes across through passage of this ordinance, it's "We are a bunch of fucking idiots." ("Idiot" is a legal term for someone in a position of authority who is more concerned with making a point than with making sense.)

I suppose it's possible the council members are actually earnest about believing the requirement will make the town safer, but the crime rate in Nelson is already so low that a single police officer is sufficient to keep the peace:

Police Chief Heath Mitchell noted that the city doesn’t have police officers who work 24 hours a day and is far from the two sheriff’s offices that might send deputies in case of trouble, so response times to emergency calls can be long. Having a gun would help residents take their protection into their own hands, he said.

But the chief — the town’s sole police officer — acknowledged the crime rate is very low. He mostly sees minor property thefts and a burglary every few months. The most recent homicide was more than five years ago, he said.

That being the case, additional firearms are certainly not essential "in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants." Bringing a gun into a home that previously didn't have one introduces new risksthe possibility of a family member or visiting toddler accidentally shooting off a toe or a face, for example. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, statistically speaking, if there was also a chance that the gun would be used to fend off an intruder. But since quiet, peaceful Nelson ain't that kind of a place it's a good bet that a household gun mandate is a net negative for the health, safety and general welfare of the town's toes and faces. I do declare!


Zonkey said...

I don't think the city council of Nelson is stupid. I think they knew exactly what they were doing. I don't think they made the law for people's safety nor do I believe that the true intentions of the law is to make a political statement (although it does just because of how hard the government is pushing gun regulation right now, I just don't believe this was the sole or main intention). I believe that this was one big, sarcastic joke. Politics desperately needs humour right now anyways. As you said, crime is low in Nelson, so why worry about safety. And anyone who wants a gun there more than likely already has one, and those that don't have one are probably paupers and can't afford one yet or are opposed to guns and therefore all who don't have one are exempt. They were able to grab international attention to an otherwise unknown and does not really need to be known town. I find that hilarious. You were the one who made me aware of this situation, and inspired me to write my own blog on my opinion of it. I credited you no worries, even put your link on it (hope you don't mind, and if you do, I'm not really sorry, it's just more pleasant if you don't have a problem with that). If you wanted to check it out you can go here:

And besides, they used the word can this law not be a joke?

Revolt Of The Imbeciles said...

Hey Zonkey,

Thanks for the comment! As for all the linking and crediting, I'm flattered and gratified, so thanks again. I must say, I like your take on the matter--maybe I wasn't giving the Nelsonites enough credit. I mean, the whole thing seems like a joke, so who's to say they're not in on it? If I ran a town I'm sure I'd pass all kinds of stupid laws just to give myself a laugh.

Anyway, keep at it!