Kennesaw, Georgia resident Wayne Arnold

Owning a gun is the law in one Georgia town


KENNESAW, Ga. (CNN) – As the debate over guns in Washington D.C. continues, there’s one place where technically the law says a gun is a requirement.

Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling said, “Welcome to Kennesaw. We love everybody.” Kennesaw, Georgia: where “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm.”

Mayor Easterling said, “If you’re going to commit a crime in Kennesaw and you’re the criminal. Are you going to take a chance that that homeowner is a law-abiding citizen?”

Kennesaw, Georgia resident Wayne Arnold

Wayne Arnold is one of those citizens. “It gives me the ability to protect myself as opposed to being somewhere where you weren’t allowed to have a firearm or it was frowned upon,” he said.

The law isn’t actually enforced and some assume it’s an “ancient law” but it actually passed in 1982.

Lieutenant Craig Graydon, Commander of Criminal Investigations Division for the Kennesaw Police Department, said, “It was meant to be kind of a crime deterrent,” said the commander of the Kennesaw Police Department’s criminal investigation division, Lieutenant Craig Graydon. “It was also more or less a political statement because the city of Morton Grove, Illinois passed a city ordinance banning handguns from their city limits.”

30 plus years later, it’s still on the books in Kennesaw.

Arnold said, “People kind of get the image that it’s the Wild West where everybody walks around with a firearm strapped to their side and it’s not like that.”

What it is, is one of Georgia’s safer cities. Only one murder in the last six years.

“We can’t say that just that gun law contributes X number of percent to why we have a low crime rate.,” Lt. Graydon said. “It may be part of it but it needs to be looked at from a whole picture. Ultimately you’ve got to decide in your local community what’s best for you.”

And across the country, there are many communities re-examining their own relationship with guns in the wake of deadly mass shootings like Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and Parkland within the last six months

Back in Kennesaw, when it comes to public safety, city officials say their relationship with the community is a big factor.

Mayor Easterling said, “The first thing that most people say when they meet us, you know as a community is ‘Oh it’s not what I expected.”’

And for many looking from the outside in it’s hard to know what to expect. It’s why they get calls from places all over the country and as far away as Norway, all curious about a place where firearms are literally written into its existence.

Mayor Easterling said, “They choose to carry. Or they choose not to.”

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