- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

A tiny hamlet in Kansas has become the second American town to pass a statute requiring that each head of household have a gun and ammunition at home.

The City Council of Geuda Springs, with a population of 210 near the Oklahoma border, enacted an ordinance earlier this month that mirrors one that has been in effect in Kennesaw, Ga., since March 1982.

FBI statistics show that crime in Kennesaw plummeted after the gun law was passed and remains low today, even though the city’s population has skyrocketed during the past two decades.

“When everybody in a place is armed, the bad guys don’t want to go there,” said Geuda Springs Councilman John Brewer, a Libertarian, who introduced his community’s gun ordinance that passed the five-member council by a 3-2 vote on Nov. 3.

The measure has not taken effect, Mr. Brewer explained in a telephone interview yesterday, because it has not been published nor has it been signed by Geuda Springs Mayor Edward Lacey.

Mr. Brewer agrees with those who say there is little crime in their town. But he worries that might change, given that Geuda Springs does not have its own police force or a marshal and “doesn’t have any money” to hire security.

“The mayor should have signed it when we first passed it. Now we’ve got the [Sumner County] sheriff and the [Geuda Springs] city attorney trying to block it. I hope I have the votes [to retain the legislation]. I think I do,” Mr. Brewer added.

The mayor’s position on the gun ordinance is uncertain, because he refuses to talk about it.

The Second Amendment is popular in this 130-year-old Old West town. “Most people who live here already have guns. About 85 to 90 percent have loaded firearms in their homes … and we use them here all the time against coyotes and skunks,” Mr. Brewer said.

The ordinance calls for a $10 penalty for those who don’t keep a gun at home. But just as the law in Kennesaw (which has a $50 penalty) is not enforced, Mr. Brewer said, authorities will not be going to the doors of homes of Geuda Springs residents to see if they are in compliance.

Those with conscientious or religious objections to firearms are exempt from the law, as are paupers, people with physical or mental disabilities, and convicted felons. “If you don’t want a gun, you don’t have to have one. … This is a perfect law,” Mr. Brewer said.

Sumner County Sheriff Gerald Gilkey, whose force patrols crime in Geuda Springs., says it concerns him that those convicted of domestic violence are not exempted, because of Kansas state law.

“I’m not actively opposed to the measure, but we’re concerned about officer safety,” Sheriff Gilkey said in a telephone interview.

The sheriff said Geuda Springs has little crime. So far this year, he said, two civil disputes, one incident of domestic violence and one case of “crime damage to property” have been reported.

Thomas Herlocker, the Geuda Springs attorney, says he will urge City Council to rescind the ordinance at a meeting Monday, but he declines to say why until he has explained his objections to council members.

When the Kennesaw City Council unanimously passed its law requiring heads of household to keep guns and ammunition at home, reporters predicted the community would be awash in blood. But that hasn’t happened, even though the city’s population has grown more than 275 percent since 1982.

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