The Brady Center says guns in the home are more likely to hurt family members than ward off intruders.

Brady Center Sues Nelson, Ga., Over Mandatory Gun Ordinance

More lawsuits against gun-touting towns may on the horizon.

The Brady Center says guns in the home are more likely to hurt family members than ward off intruders.
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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a lawsuit Thursday against the 1,300-person town of Nelson, Ga., which adopted in April an ordinance requiring all households to have a gun.

Nelson's five-person city council unanimously approved the ordinance April 1, claiming inspiration from nearby Kennesaw, Ga., a 30,000-person town that claims its mandatory gun ordinance - passed in 1982 - scared away criminals.

A lawsuit is not currently pending against Kennesaw, but a pro-gun control source told U.S. News that litigation against that town could be on the horizon.

Nelson Mayor Pro-Tem Jonathan Bishop told U.S. News Friday that he was unable to comment on the pending lawsuit, which asks that the law be declared "illegal and unconstitutional on its face," as well as "null and void and unenforceable."

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Local officials in other small towns sought to implement mandatory gun-ownership laws earlier this year. Efforts in Byron, Maine, and Spring City, Utah, were unsuccessful.

Nelson's law exempts mentally disabled residents and convicted felons from the gun mandate. There's no enforcement mechanism in the law, meaning that it's largely a symbolic statement.

And some legal experts tend to agree with the Brady Campaign's position.

"Any mandatory gun ownership law is flagrantly unconstitutional and certifiably moronic," George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told U.S. News in March.

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The Brady Center's lawsuit alleges that the gun ownership requirement violates the First, Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights of residents who do not wish to abide by the law. The Second Amendment, the gun control group says, gives Americans the freedom to choose whether or not to own a gun.

"In this lawsuit we seek to establish that the government does not have the authority to compel Americans to buy guns or bring them into their homes," said the Brady Center's Legal Action Project Director Jonathan Lowy in a released statement. "Forcing residents to buy guns they do not want or need won't make the City of Nelson or its people any safer, and only serves to increase gun sales and gun industry profits. A gun brought into your home is far more likely to be used to injure or kill a family member, than to ward off an intruder."

The Brady Center said in its announcement that the lawsuit "further alleges that the ordinance violates city residents' fundamental right to privacy within the sanctity of their homes, and unconstitutionally discriminates between heads of household, who are required to own a gun, and non-heads of household, whose personal beliefs cannot provide a basis for an exception to the ordinance's mandate."

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