Brady Center Sues Nelson, Georgia Over Ordinance Requiring Gun Ownership

55 miles to atlantaWSBTV screen grabThe small town of Nelson, Georgia, (pop: 1,300) passed an ordinance in April requiring the head of each household to own a firearm (with exceptions for convicted felons, those not capable of owning a gun, and anyone who conscientiously objected. Despite the exceptions, and that the town’s police chief (and only cop) said he had no intention of enforcing the ordinance, the Brady Center for Gun Violence (an anti-gun more than an anti-violence group) is suing the city over what it calls an “unconstitutional” law.

Is there a “violence” problem in Nelson? The city’s cop compared it to The Andy Griffith Show’s fictional town of Mayberry, leading Politifact to note there hadn’t been a murder in the town in five years. The suspect in that case, according to the police chief, fled to Mexico. If the Brady Center were worried about the Constitution, it wouldn’t push anti-gun laws. If it were worried about violence, it wouldn’t be wasting time in Nelson, Georgia. It’s all for the children, of course.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...is suing the city over what it calls an “unconstitutional” law.

    And if they win, with what tool does the Brady Center think is going to be used to enforce the judgment?

  • Rich||

    That's *different*, Fist -- and you *know* it!

  • Agammamon||

    I don't understand the question. If they win, no-one will take away the guns. It will only mean no-one is *required* to have one.

    Unless you're thinking the cops will come around and, by gunpoint, force you to purchase a gun?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Sure, why not.

  • Nazdrakke||

    So.. Switzerland?

  • GroundTruth||

    yup, I was just thinking the same thing.

    Obviously this can't work, since CH has tried it and you can see what a mess their country is, and how violent they al are. And, it if it did work, it would only be for a short time, like 500 years or so.

  • Brian D||

    Of course not. They will merely levy a penaltax to anyone failing to provide proof of ownership of a firearm.

  • Hyperion||

    When states start repealing all federal gun laws, that's progress.

  • Rich||

    The Brady Center [claims] a recently adopted ordinance requiring heads of household to own a gun and ammunition is unconstitutional.

    Good grief. Can't they just accept it as a penaltax?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was thinking that. I actually agree that mandating gun ownership is likely illegal, though not for the same reasons, I'm sure.

    Just like the federal government making people buy health insurance is.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Actually, I don't believe it is unconstitutional. It is essentially the same as requiring every man be armed so they could muster to form a militia, which was clearly not only contemplated by the founders but was their favored way to provide for the national defense.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    The "militia" phrase of the Second Amendment, "a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state," is a mandate requiring the American people to bear arms. The Militia Acts were clear about that interpretation, not only requiring men to keep and bear arms, but were specific as to the contents of the kit for service.

  • Generic Stranger||

    The "militia" phrase of the Second Amendment, "a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state," is a mandate requiring the American people to bear arms.

    I don't think that provides the necessary authorization, though it was obviously part of the rational.

    There's another clause under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution authorizing congress "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress..."

    That would be a better source for the authorization to require gun ownership.

  • Mark22||

    It can't be "illegal", but it might be "unconstitutional". However, there clearly are (and should be) many things that local and state laws can do that would be unconstitutional for the federal government.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Ya. Penaltax, motherfuckers.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    SLD applies in full, but I fucking hope they get their penaltax shove straight up their ass. They're the ones who decided that forcing people to buy particular products was a great fucking idea, let them live with the results.

  • adifferentken||

    I wonder why The Brady Center never bothered to go after Kennesaw, GA? They passed pretty much the same law way back in 1982.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennesaw,_Georgia

  • robc||

    Was wondering the same thing.

  • Jon Lester||

    My very first thought, as well.

  • Warrren||

    Clutching at straws is what the Bradys do best!

  • Paul.||

    Is this a penalty, or a tax?

    And using the Insurance Mandate as our guide, why doesn't the Town of Nelson, Georgia have the authority to demand this?

    If our progressive friends claimed that yes, in fact, the government could compel you to purchase broccoli, it just doesn't because the right people are in charge, will Tony finally be confronted with the irony of Total Government Power?

    Questions that need answerin'.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The GOP should quietly threaten to pass a mandatory gun law if the Democrats don't repeal ObamaCarousel. Sure, deny it publicly, but make it clear that they'll do it as soon as they have the votes.

    It would be equally legal.

  • Mark22||

    "Is this a penalty, or a tax?"

    Yes.

  • Rrabbit||

    Requiring citizens to own a gun looks unconstitutional to me. Why should I have to spend the money to buy a gun and ammunition if I'd rather spend the money on whatever else (hookers, unhealthy food, porn, whatever)? What part of the constitution grants the government the power to enact such a regulation?

    They should have *recommended* that citizens own a gun an ammo, rather than pass an ordinance.

  • Paul.||

    What part of the constitution grants the government the power to enact such a regulation?

    The same part that says that the government can compel you to purchase a product from a third party.

  • JeremyR||

    It should, but it's been ruled that the government can force you to buy something, they just can't force you to use it.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    What part of the constitution grants the government the power to enact such a regulation?

    You may be confusing the federal government with states and localities. The Constitution enumerates federal powers, not state powers.

  • Rrabbit||

    In my book, the people in a state or a municipality can pass their own local constitution which grants their local government powers which do not conflict with the Federal constitution. Any authority the people have not granted to the local government in such way, the local government should not have.

  • SIV||

    Vote with your feet and stay the fuck out of Nelson, GA ya commie.

    If government can force you to have fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and low flow toilets and showerheads why can't they force you to own a firearm?

  • Finrod||

    Ditto that. Most places have rules as to what is required for occupancy, what would stop them from requiring a firearm to be present as well?

  • ||

    Ultimately, the Brady Center may have the Constitution on its side because the law could be interpreted as a violation of First Amendment free speech rights, said Emory University law professor Michael Perry, a constitutional law expert.

    "For the same reason you can't tell the citizens they've got to own and display the American flag, you can't tell American citizens they have to own guns and keep them on the premises," he said.

    The government can't require people to do something unless there's some plausible argument that it serves a legitimate government objective, Perry said. While deterring crime could be considered a legitimate objective, it would be hard for the city to prove the ordinance accomplishes that goal, he said.

    So rich! So, so rich! You can't make people own and display a flag, but you can make cigarette manufacturers decry their own products on their packaging, and food manufacturers label theirs in specific ways. You can't make people buy and keep a gun, but you can make them buy and keep health insurance. Because some things are legitimate government objectives and others aren't. And it's clear which is which.

  • perlhaqr||

    Citizens Militia == legitimate government objective.

    At least as much as the Obamacare mandate.

  • Agammamon||

    Except that a citizen's militia, by definition, is private and not part of the government.

    Think about all those militias we had way back when. They were private organizations, albeit lent themselves to government use on occasion.

  • GroundTruth||

    Try explaining that to the disarmament folks.

  • Rrabbit||

    The health insurance topic is very complex. The current US system is broken in many ways:
    o health insurance is tied to keeping your current job
    o people who have no health insurance get medical treatment anyways (in ERs), and de facto do not have to pay for the treatment they get
    o prices for medical treatment are not visible and cannot be compared by customers
    o people who have no health insurance and want to purchase some procedure at a hospital are charged 5-10 times what an insurance or medicare would pay

  • Mark22||

    Unfortunately, Obamacare addresses none of those issues effectively; instead it perpetuates a bad system.

    The most important reform would have been simply to change the tax benefits for employer-provided health care over to individuals, and to keep insurance companies from dropping customers or raising rates arbitrarily on job change or job loss.

  • robc||

    Actually, while that is a good step 2, step 1 was even easier. A federal law to prevent, thru actual proper use of the interstate commerce clause, states from banning out-of-state insurance purchases. Allow any individual or company to purchase their insurance from any company in any state.

    New York has horrendous regulations? Buy a South Dakota policy instead.

    Note: no idea if SD is a low or high reg state, just an example.

  • Rrabbit||

    Amen to that, Rob. Have more competition and let the market sort out things.

  • ||

    Imo, there's nothing libertarian about, nor is it good policy to require gun ownership. Furthermore, there is the issue of cost - mandating you purchase such a big ticket item.

    I disagree with Brady Center on most everything regarding RKBA and gunz in general, but I have to agree with them here. I have no idea if this law is legal, so to speak, but it's awful policy.

    This issue should be all about choice.

  • Paul.||

    Normally, I'd agree with you. But my thinking has been dramatically transformed by the rock-solid argument from progressives regarding externalities and cost pressures vis-a-vis the insurance mandate.

    I am truly reborn. The government can compel you to purchase broccoli-- it has that authority.

    The government has a compelling interest in public safety to decentralize and spread the cost of defending the public from criminal activity by mandating the purchase of a product from a third party.

  • ||

    I feel you. They established that fucked up precedent, they should be forced to choke on it.

  • Agammamon||

    We need Kevin Spacey to sit them down and force them to eat every last bit.

  • Alien Invader||

    Like ObamaCare, the government shall also establish non-taxing taxes (taxless), and then subsidize the purchase of guns and ammo for the poor.

  • Hopfiend||

    I see what you did there, I like it.

  • Warrren||

    That's why the law is riddled with exceptions.

  • Agammamon||

    Well, I don't think the town council here is particularly libertarian. Though purchasing a gun is *not* a big ticket item - $100 buys you a cheap, low caliber handgun.

    And like you, I agree with the Brady Center (I'm gagging as I type this) but I don't see how it can be illegal now that the supreme court has opened the door to forced purchase.

  • Alien Invader||

    Yes and if you already have a gun and you like it, you'll be allowed to keep it.

  • Hopfiend||

    This comment is sooo money.

  • PH2050||

    Haha! Epic.

  • Finrod||

    The municipality in question is on a county line at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The reason for the mandate is that the town is so small as to not have any kind of local police force, and county police coverage is slow at best.

  • UnCivilServant||

    "Big ticket item"?

    My microwave cost more than all but two of my firearms, and the cheapest of my guns is the most reliable cannon in my arsenal.

    They didn't say handgun, they said firearm. And even if it were a handgun, my car insurance (also mandated by law) costs me more every year than the one-time cost of picking up a quality sidearm. Once you have it, keeping it working costs maybe $14 a year in cleaning supplies, assuming you lose most of them at some point. Sure, if you want to learn how to use it, there are expenses there, but knowing what to do and practice firing is not included in the law.

    The ACA costs more than this ordinance.

  • Irish||

    Two points:

    1. Mandating gun ownership should be illegal.

    2. It technically isn't because of the Obamacare decision.

    It's almost like the Obamacare Supreme Court decision had some unintended consequences.

  • SIV||

    "If you have to insure your car you should have to own a gun"

  • Alien Invader||

    If you eat broccoli then you should own a fucking gun and some bullets. And now that we've got ObamaCare, if don't eat broccoli now you soon will be.

  • Floridian||

    That is some Top Notch trolling Nelson. I wonder if the town will do a collective HA HA! at the Brady people if this is upheld?

  • Floridian||

    Also: THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, MANDATE, DEMOCRACY!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • cavalier973||

    According to the FedGov, the National Militia includes every able-bodied man between specific ages. Requiring that everyone own a firearm supports this definition of "militia" in a very practical way. Too bad towns are having to do the work that the FedGov just isn't willing to do.

  • Agammamon||

    The US doesn't actually have a 'national militia' any more. There are multiple state militias and the National Guard.

  • Agammamon||

    Its actually a confusing muddle. A reading of the statutes suggests that 'national militia' refers to the body of people eligible to join the NG.

  • Calidissident||

    This is true. And "militia" in the context of the Constitution, meant all able bodied adult males. It wasn't a formal group people signed up for.

  • LarryA||

    The government can't require people to do something unless there's some plausible argument that it serves a legitimate government objective, Perry said. While deterring crime could be considered a legitimate objective, it would be hard for the city to prove the ordinance accomplishes that goal, he said.

    Step 1. Fight this lawsuit and ultimately lose because "it's hard for the city to prove the ordinance accomplishes that goal."

    Step 2. Sue Chicago and demand they prove that their "common sense gun control" laws accomplish the goal of reducing gun violence.

    Step 3. Sue D.C. and demand they prove that their "common sense gun control" laws accomplish the goal of reducing gun violence.

    Rinse-repeat.

  • R C Dean||

    Just which Constitutional right does this law violate, again?

    Note that this has nothing to do with any of purportedly limited grants of power to the feds, so the Commerce Clause and all that are irrelevant. If this is unconstitutional, it can only be because it violates a Constitutional right. So, which one?

  • Agammamon||

    Hmm, 5th amendment maybe - specifically the bits about being deprived of property (the difference in perceived wealth between having the money to purchase a gun and the actual gun itself) and the bit about not taking private property without just compensation

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Are state property taxes unconstitutional under the 5th?

  • Agammamon||

    No, but it would require them to define purchasing a gun as a tax or, alternatively, eminient domain.

    Personally, while a stretch, I think eminent domain would make a stronger case.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Why would it have to be a tax and not just a power reserved to the state?

  • Agammamon||

    Per the USSC's dancing around the issue - state's have no power to compel you to purchase anything, they can penalize/tax you or seize property under eminent domain but they don't have that directly coercive power (yet).

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    They can make you purchase car insurance.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I believe they can require you to have running water which they can then make you purchase.

  • Agammamon||

    1. They can only compel you to purchase car insurance as part of driving on public roads. Part of why Robert's had to tap-dance his way to penal-tax-land was that its pretty obvious the government can't mandate the purchase of something just to exist, which this gun mandate also does.

    2. They can't require me to have running water, I can fail to pay my water bill and get my water disconnected, pretty much indefinitely, if I choose.

  • Mark22||

    Well, by analogy, if you walk on public roads, you (1) have to buy Obamacare, and (2) have to buy a gun, right? :-)

  • robc||

    Amendment 9.

  • Agammamon||

    "Brady Center for Gun Violence . . . is suing the city over what it calls an “unconstitutional” law."

    I'd like to be able to say its an unconstitutional law, but Obamacare y'all.

  • Juice||

    I love this. I hope it goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

  • ||

    No way the court will take it. They would be in the position of either keeping with the penaltax precedent and allow government mandates for citizens to be armed, or rule penaltaxes unconstitutional. What a fuckwit Roberts is. I bet his ass is biting holes in his chair right now.

    I would be willing to bet not one single proggie who was nursing a boner when being asked if the government could mandate people eat broccoli had it even cross their minds that the word broccoli could be replaced with the word guns.

  • Curtisls87||

    So, I'm coming at this from a different perspective. How does the Brady bunch have standing in this case? The whole reason Prop 8 decision was booted by the SCOTUS was that those bringing the case had no standing.

  • Juice||

    They probably have a resident as the main plaintiff and they are representing him/her.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Oh man, an organization whose whole aim is to pass unconstitutional laws is now bitching about an unconstitutional law*.

    These scum and their bureaucratic buddies in government have beaten all of the principles out of me, so I hope they fucking choke on their big intrusive government. I hope Leviathan goes after every one of their PC pet causes in the name of "public safety". Fuck it, I'll sign up as a camp guard when they get the government they really have yearned for all these years.

    *not that it's unconstitutional under our modern "interpreted" constitution

  • ||

    I think passing such a mandate on a national level is a bad idea. I dont want all the progs armed.

    Letting states or municipalities do this would be fine, as it will only be passed in places where the voters mostly already have guns.

  • wheelock||

    It's ok. I'm pretty sure they would have no clue which end the bullets are supposed to go in.

  • Nazdrakke||

    So if in lieu of purchasing a firearm one would be required to pay a penaltax (associated increased costs of law enforcement, for example) instead it'd all be a-ok, right?

  • ||

    Yep.

    I am going to have a talk with some local pols monday.

  • Metazoan||

    Oh my god this is awesome

  • Almanian!||

    the town’s police chief (and only cop) said he had no intention of enforcing the ordinance

    HAH! Again following the Obama Admin's example - only enforcing laws they WANT to enforce. Penaltax gun ownership into being, but we won't enforce it, like illegal immigration and timeiines for Obamacare.

    PWND

  • Atanarjuat||

    If it were enforced somewhere (is it enforced in Kennesaw?), wouldn't that effectively create a gun registry? I envision a scenario where you put the serial number from your gun on your tax form, or pay the penaltax. A gun deduction, basically.

    All of my guns were bought with cash from friends, or gifts. There is no government record of me owning any, and I'd like to keep it that way.

  • Mark22||

    No, it wouldn't create a gun registry. You could simply be charged with "non-possession" when you actually have a burglary or murder on your premise. Having and keeping proof that you had a gun at that time would be up to you, and it would be up to a court to decide whether your proof was good enough.

  • Alien Invader||

    No, you forget how this works.

    If the cheapest gun in your town costs $50, then if you are caught without a gun they'll fine you $5. And they just might stomp on your nice new sneakers too.

  • ||

    There's a government record of it now. Thanks NSA!

  • robc||

    is it enforced in Kennesaw?

    No.

  • Alien Invader||

    An estimated 40 million poor people are forced to go without guns and ammo every day, because they cannot afford it and neither guns nor ammo are provided by their employers.

    The Affordable Guns For All Act will change that, bringing equal guns and ammo access to all Americans.

  • Alien Invader||

    The government just wants to take over the guns 'n' ammo industry and run it themselves.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    As a matter of principle, I don't believe that government--at any level--has the rightful authority to do this.

    However, since Tony & Co. disdainfully dismiss principles as childish fantasizing, I'd be interested to hear on what basis they would oppose this law. They're always insisting that the power of government is without limit.

  • KevinP||

    It is sad to hear a "constitutional expert" talk about the First Amendment which has nothing to do with this case.

    The states have always had the power to organize a militia, require ordinary citizens to be part of it, and require that they bring their own equipment. The Federal Congress has always had the concurrent power to pass regulations for the effective organization of the militia. The very first Militia Act required all adult able bodied males to equip themselves with firearms and present themselves for militia duty.

    And here are the regulations of the State of Georgia about their militia:

    https://www.gamilitia.com/pages/gacode.html

  • wheelock||

    This is genius trolling. It would be delicious to see a spate of this sort of thing. Did you know there are over 40 million Americans who don't own a sport utility vehicle? We all bear the costs of those helpless folks stuck in the snow. Mandate!

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