Nelson has no gun shops, but AOL Jobs caught up with Brennan Moss (pictured), the owner of Moss Firearms in nearby Jasper,. His reaction was surprising -- he was nonplussed.
Moss says there was a symbolic aspect to the law. "I guess they want to show their support of the second amendment," he said, "and want to protect people as well."
Other parts of the country are taking a very different approach to safety; the Connecticut General Assembly is expected to pass the nation's toughest gun control laws Wednesday, which includes banning an additional 100 types of guns and requiring background checks for all weapons sales.
The Nelson law, called the Family Protection Ordinance, says it will "provide for the emergency management of the city" and "provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants." The language is borrowed from an identical law passed in 1982 by Kennesaw, Ga., a much larger city of almost 30,000 just north of Atlanta.
Nelson Councilman Duane Cronic, who's also the chair of the math department at the local high school, told The Telegraph that the law was about safety. "I really felt like this ordinance was a security sign for our city," he said, "that just basically was a deterrent ordinance to tell potential criminals you might want to go on down the road a little bit before you come kicking down the door with a family in Nelson."
Heath Mitchell, the town's only police officer, told NBCNews.com that this was particularly important for the residents of Nelson, since the two nearest sheriff's offices are a distance away.
When asked if crime was an issue in the area, though, Moss didn't hesitate. "No. Absolutely not. It's a small town atmosphere."
Well, perhaps the law will serve some other benefit? A boon to his business? "It's an unenforceable law. I don't think it really matters," said Moss of the Family Protection Ordinance, which exempts those with disabilities, "paupers," convicted criminals and conscientious objectors. The law also contains no penalties.
"I think most people in this region already own a gun." In Connecticut, still reeling from the Newtown massacre, a bipartisan task force drafted tough, gun-control measures, but in other states, some towns have considered mandatory gun ownership laws. Last month, Byron, Maine, a town of about 150, rejected such a proposal, some accusing it of government overreach.
But even before this most recent gun debate, some communities across the country had adopted these measures. Greenleaf, Idaho passed such an ordinance in 2007, even though the Associated Press noted that the most violent offense reported in the prior two years had been a fistfight.
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