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Facing lawsuit, Georgia town holsters mandatory gun ownership law

A small town in Georgia says it will not enforce a controversial law that requires the head of nearly every household to own a gun and ammunition. 

The town of Nelson, Ga., population 1,300, passed the ordinance in April. In May, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a federal lawsuit against the town challenging the constitutionality of the law, which allowed some exceptions to the ownership requirement.  

Both sides informed the courts this week that they had recently come to a settlement. As part of the resolution, the town of Nelson declares that the law cannot and will not be enforced. 

In a press release, the Brady center said the settlement protects gun owners and non-gun owners alike. 

“The Constitution protects not just the right to bear arms, but the right not to bear arms,” said Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center. “The Brady Center brought this lawsuit to establish that the Constitution protects the rights of gun owners and non-gun owners alike, and all of us must be respectful of each other’s rights.” 

Nelson Councilman Duane Cronic had likened the ordinance to putting up a security sign in front of the entire town. 

“Some people have security systems, some people don’t, but they put those signs up,” Cronic said in April when the law was passed. “I really felt like this ordinance was a security sign for our city.” 

Although the law passed unanimously, city officials said they had not intended to enforce it all along.