Tiny Georgia city faces off against national gun control group over mandatory gun ownership

by Associated Press, The Washington Post  |  published on July 15, 2013

Nelson
ATLANTA — A tiny Georgia city and a national gun control group are facing off in a legal battle over a city ordinance requiring gun ownership, with the constitutionality of the law and broader messages about gun rights taking center stage.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in May filed a federal lawsuit against Nelson, a city of roughly 1,300 residents about 50 miles north of Atlanta, saying a recently adopted ordinance requiring heads of household to own a gun and ammunition is unconstitutional.

“We definitely think this law is misguided and unconstitutional in Nelson and anywhere else where it’s passed,” lawyer Jonathan Lowy of the Washington-based Brady Center said in a recent interview. “But it’s also important to send a message to other jurisdictions around the country that might be inclined to pass similar misguided, unconstitutional laws.”

The Nelson City Council adopted the Family Protection Ordinance on April 1. The measure requires every head of household to own a gun and ammunition to “provide for the emergency management of the city” and to “provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants.” The ordinance exempts convicted felons, those who can’t afford a gun and those who suffer from certain physical or mental disabilities, as well as anyone who conscientiously objects to owning guns because of their beliefs or religious doctrine.

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