KENNESAW, GA (CNN) – As the debate over guns continues in Washington, DC, there’s one city in the United States where technically the law says a gun is a requirement: Kennesaw, GA.
A suburb of Atlanta, Kennesaw has a law on the books that reads “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm.”
"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?" Mayor Derek Easterling said.
The law, however, isn’t actually enforced, and even though some assume it’s ancient, it passed in 1982.
“It was meant to be kind of a crime deterrent, and it was also more or less a political statement because the city of Morton Grove, IL, had passed a city ordinance banning handguns from their city limits,” said Lt. Craig Graydon, commander of the Kennesaw Police’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Thirty plus years later, the law is still on the books, and some residents, like Wayne Arnold, are grateful.
"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,” Arnold said.
As communities across the country are re-examining their relationships with guns in the wake of deadly mass shootings like Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and Parkland, Graydon says it’s all about what’s best for the residents.
While Kennesaw is one of Georgia’s safer cities – with only one murder in the last six years – Graydon says the gun law may only be one reason why.
"We can't say that just that gun law contributes 'x' number of percent to why we have a low crime rate. It may be part of it, but it needs to be looked at from a whole picture,” he said.
City officials say their relationship with the community is a big factor in public safety.
"They choose to carry, or they choose not to,” Easterling said.
Kennesaw receives calls from places all over the country and as far away as Norway, with everyone curious about a place where firearms are literally written into its existence.
"People would 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,” Arnold said.
In fact, Easterling says in Kennesaw, the residents love everybody.
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