Your Right to Not Bear Arms

According to CNN, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is taking the town of Nelson, Georgia to court over the town’s ordinance that requires “every head of household to have a gun and ammunition.” According to the article, “the ordinance exempts people who ‘suffer from a physical or mental disability,’ felons, ‘paupers’ or people who ‘conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine.”‘

The fine for breaking this ordinance is $1,000.00. While the exemptions seem relatively broad, they are more narrow when one considers the context. It seems that almost anyone could claim a religious exemption here. Unfortunately, it is likely that this provencial community would have a more limited view of what constitutes “religious doctrine” than an outsider may expect. In all likelihood, it is a welcoming community that is accepting and tolerant of all sorts of religious groups, as long as they are pentacostal Christian.

It would be interesting to know what constitutes a “belief” that would satisfy the exemption under the statute. If a resident “believes” that he or she is too irresponsible to own a gun, is that enough? What if they “believe” that this ordinance violates the First Amendment?

Assuming the law is enforced, the courts will also have to examine a pivotal question: who is the head of the household anyway? Most people reading this article would probably assume that the statute is actually referring to the collective partnership between the adults in a home. They should probably make that a bit more clear, or some people might get the wrong idea about their town.

The real irony here is that, dollars to donuts, everyone in this town thinks the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional because it forces them to buy health care, but they think it’s okay to force people to buy a gun. The logical disconnect aside, maybe they’ll come around when their taxes go up because they have to help pay for the treatment of the uninsured pedestrians that are hit with stray bullets during the celebration of their favorite driver’s most recent NASCAR victory.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianturton/1031930358/)

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