It’s the Law to Own a Gun in Kennesaw, Georgia, and Criminals Hate it

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Kennesaw Georgia gun lawKENNESAW, 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.

With all the attention that has been heaped upon the lawful possession of firearms lately, you would think that a city that requires gun ownership would be the center of a media feeding frenzy. It isn’t. The fact is I can’t remember a major media outlet even mentioning Kennesaw. Can you?

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According to the Kennesaw Police Department,the city’s most recent crime statistics show 243 property crimes per 100,000 residents in 1998, or .243 per 1,000.

The city’s crime rate continues to be far below other metro Atlanta city’s with similar populations, like Decatur. In 1998, Decatur recorded 4,049 property crimes per 100,000 residents.

Jones said one motivation for the council passing the ordinance had to do with publicity.

“It was done in response to a law passed by Morton Grove, Ill., outlawing gun ownership within the city limits,” he said. “Several council members were upset Morton Grove had gotten a lot of attention with their ordinance so they decided to top them.

“They figured the gun ownership ordinance would knock that city right off the front pages. They were right.”

Jones said the ensuing publicity surrounding the law has given Kennesaw worldwide name recognition.

map_of_kennesaw_ga“I have been to Australia and Europe and when I tell people I am from Kennesaw they recognize the name as the place that requires everyone to own a gun,” he said.

“There are many outs,” he said. “When you look at it, almost anyone could fit into one of the exempted groups.”

Kennesaw Police Chief Dwaine Wilson said no one has ever been prosecuted under the ordinance.

Among those exempt are residents “who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine.” Others exempt include the physically and mentally disabled, paupers and those convicted of a felony.

The law contains no clause addressing punishment for violating the law. If convicted, City Clerk Diane Coker said punishment would be determined by the general penalty clause of the Kennesaw Code Ordinance – probably a fine of about $100.

Jones said the unusual law has not deterred anyone from moving to Kennesaw.

“Our population has increased just like everyone’s in Georgia in the past 20 years,” he said. “The law really hasn’t done any harm to the city’s growth.”

The city’s population in 1998 was recorded at 14,493 – a sharp increase over the 8,936 residents recorded in the 1990 census.

Kennesaw proves that the presence of firearms actually improves safety and security. This is not the message that the media want us to hear. They want us to believe that guns are evil and are the cause of violence. The facts tell a different story. What is even more interesting about Kennesaw is that the city’s crime rate decreased with the simple knowledge that the entire community was armed. The bad guys didn’t force the residents to prove it. Just knowing that residents were armed prompted them to move on to easier targets.

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19 thoughts on “It’s the Law to Own a Gun in Kennesaw, Georgia, and Criminals Hate it

  1. hagen

    I think they when you say felons can’t own guns I think they go to far with the law I have a felony and I’m not violent at all I’m a family man who made a mistake when I was young I think the law is great but I think that a persons gun right should be taking away on a case by case basis I never have been to prison or nothing like that and let not forget most gun crime is done by people with no criminal record I’m an American and will own guns no matter what the law says it’s my constitutional right and I will do so forget the law

    1. ChrisW

      So you’re admitting to committing another felony on the internet? Way to keep consistent atleast. BS most gun crime is from people with no record. The majority of gun crime is committed by with a record, and 80% of gun crimes committed are with firearms that were illegally obtained, like the one you’re basically admitting you probably have. (Department of Justice statistics.) Was it also your constitutional right to commit a crime that you more than likely knew was WRONG at the time that you did it? You screwed yourself over, you pay the consequences.

    2. burgerman

      Not a good idea to ignore the law in your position. I would go to the court where I was convicted and show them that you have not been involved in any crimes since your conviction and see if it can be removed. It is possible.

  2. Lily sue

    At 16 I learned to use a firearm thru a rifle club. I attained an expert rating. Participated in many rifle matches. I understood the seriousness of the use of this rifle. I do not believe in citizens having assault weapons. I had an Anshutz single bolt action .22 caliber rifle! Respect the firearm and you will do no harm! I would like to own a handgun now! This story proves my point!

  3. bob

    You can petition to have the right restored. At the time, a “felon” was specific and pretty much only meant violent, dangerous criminal. The list of crimes considered felonies has expanded, and isnt standardized (being determined at state level). However the wording of the law passed in 1968 hasnt been changed. However however, you can petition to have the right restored.

  4. DCG

    hagen, the constitution allows for firearms for a “well regulated militia,” not for people who think they can legally blast home intruders (9 times out of 10 you cant, fyi).

    You should try reading it before you go touting your constitutional rights. It’s not as black and white as you probably think.

    1. GunDoc75

      Guess again, DCG. SCOTUS (in both Heller & McDonald) held that the right to self defense is held as an INDIVIDUAL right, as the Militia of the day was to be every man of fighting age.
      Having lived in Kennesaw, I love that law. The biggest crime problems are alcohol related, mostly DUIs. Compare that to major cities like Atlanta, New York, LA, or Detroit; or, better yet, compare it to similar sized cities, like Mansfield, OH, Smyrna, GA, or anywhere in Illinois.
      Once I have my teaching degree & certifications, you can be sure I will be applying to Kennesaw area schools.
      I ride. I carry. I vote.

  5. Harry

    Hagen, you gave up that constitutional right when you committed a felony. And chances are you committed many many felonies before your were caught and convicted. Your only recourse is a black powder firearm or get an expungement, a governor’s pardon or a presidential pardon (good luck!). As a taxpayer, we don’t have the time or the money to check out every felon to determine if they should have a gun again. The federal gov’t stopped wasting taxpayer’s money doing “relief of disabilities” investigations to give felons back their gun rights over 20 years agon when so many of them were found committing crimes again with firearms after their rights were restored. The rest of us will enjoy our 2nd Amendment rights.

  6. James

    Actually im partially on Hagen’s side I believe the right to own a firearm should be on a case by case basis for people who have felonies. However I believe it should not come out of taxpayers pockets. Honestly, the person wanting their rights back should pay all nessicary fees incurred throughout the process. Owning a firearm is obviously a responsible as far as keeping it in good service and stocking necessities (eg ammunition) not only that but I also believe that no matter how hard you try and control something be it guns or drugs (for example) there will ALWAYS be a supply and demand. So as far as trying to control the hands of who gets a gun I believe that everybody should be allowed at least one firearm free and clear (not price wise but background check and what not) I also believe that their picture be taken and placed on an INTERNATIONAL database so should his/her “right to carry” be revoked he/she must begin the process to have the “right to carry” reinstated.


    I personally lived in KENNESAW , GA. for over 10 yrs. and loved the People and the Town. My 4 children went to school there, worked there, got married there, started their family there, and if I were to move back to Ga. it would be to KENNESAW,GA. It is a wonderful place to live. A lot of other towns should think about this law they may be surprised with what it could do for their community.

  8. Rick Malone

    I moved to Kennesaw in 2000. When I went to set up my city utilities I was asked if I owned a gun and was told it was the law. I said yes and that was it. NO registration, NO permits No forms of any kind. Another reason the crime rate is low is because you can’t turn a corner without seeing a police car.

  9. nrev

    One thing to address here. I see felony class as way too wide of a blanket here. Several years ago around 2000, my health got bad my then wife left, and I was later charged with the FELONY of non support due to my inability to work. When I was subsequently placed on probation as the result of being deemed guilty of this heinous offense. The probation officer informed me that they treated all offenders the same, regardless of the offense. I ask those who support the views of ChrisW and Harry, should such crimes as these even be classified as felonies and the offenders be regarded the same as an armed robber, rapist or mob muscle? Do you support the once a criminal always a criminal theory?

    As far as the constitution’s “well regulated militia,” as DCG states very incompletely, I love it when people quote 3 words as a whole concept, we are to maintain a ” well regulated militia,” in order to keep the government in check and to prevent it from getting too big and overly controlling. We are actually mandated by the constitution to insure that this doesn’t happen. Not working very well is it?

    BTW Hagen, Executive Clemency or Governors Pardon depending on your state is what you would file to have your rights restored. It’s not that much paperwork and if your recent history is clean it stands a good chance of being granted. Go through the right channels though.

  10. nrev

    Sorry about this. I missed a point I intended to address. The persons that process the paperwork for pardons, clemency etc. are already getting paid to do their job. It’s not contracted out per case or lot. In most cases, I don’t know how it is in all states, the petitioner pays the filing fees, if there are any, not the public. Make certain of the facts before spouting opinions.

  11. KDR

    DCG, you should check out District of Columbia vs. Heller, where the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun unconnected to service in a militia and that it is lawful to use it for self defense within the home. I think everybody should do their research before they tell others to do so, don’t you agree?

  12. Lisa

    “The city’s crime rate continues to be far below other metro Atlanta city’s with similar populations, like Decatur”

    Please change the second “city’s” to “cities” which is the plural form of “city.”
    Thanks in advance

  13. Vic

    Hay – Kennesaw, Georgia.. Your right the Criminals Will Hate it. But our stupid Government wants the Criminals to take over, that’s one reason they want our guns. It is proven – that any country that has had Gun Control, crime risen to outrageous heights. The other, is so that the Government can be bigger crooks, and control us even more.

    The Government should be buying everyone a gun for protection. The Police can’t protect us. ?? And why are they using our tax money to buy more ammo. They already have 10 yrs of war stocked supply of ammo, and now they are buying more??? For who? The US…

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