Kennesaw, Georgia v. Morton Grove, Illinois

This is one of those issues that are so easy to understand, that you have to shake your damn head when others don't seem to get it. It's the tale of Morton Grove, versus Kennesaw, and the numbers don't lie.

In 1981, the city of Morton Grove, Illinois, passed a municipal ordinance against handgun ownership. Wikipedia makes a sparse notation about this law, but it was a national story at the time, because it concerned what protection of rights citizens actually did have under the constitution at the time. They say:

In 1981, Morton Grove became the first town in America to prohibit the possession of handguns. Victor Quilici, a local lawyer, sued the city (Quilici v. Morton Grove). The federal district court as well as the Appellate Court ruled the Morton Grove ordinance to be constitutional, thus upholding the gun ban. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, letting the lower court decision stand. The ban stood as village code 6-2-3.[22] However, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller,[23] it appeared likely that the village would drop the ban. On July 28, 2008, the city dropped its prohibition on handguns. The village board voted 5-1 in favor of removing the ban.[24]

Imagine that....ONE courageous lawyer stood up for what’s right, and the courts would not. And so for 27 years, the residents of Morton Grove lost the free exercise of their 2nd Amendment rights. 

In response to this, the town of Kennesaw, Georgia passed its own opposite ordnance in 1982, requiring each home to have a working firearm and ammunition for it. Their wiki page says:

Kennesaw is noted for its unique firearms legislation in response to Morton Grove, Illinois' law mandating gun prohibition. In 1982 the city passed an ordinance [Sec 34-21]:[20]

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

Other than the fact that these two acts of legislation are exact opposites, there is another striking difference, and that is a difference in reasonableness. Morton Grove's leaders, convinced that they had the moral high ground (a rock upon which many ships have been wrecked), decided that they knew better than the individual citizens what they should be allowed to own. No exceptions were provided. Strangely, it seems to be difficult to find a link to a copy of the text of their law. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to know how far out of step they are with American values of liberty. And if anyone reading this has a link to it, please share it in the comments section below.

Conversely, the Kennesaw ordnance contains a number of exceptions:

  • Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm;
  • Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers;
  • Those who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine;
  • or persons convicted of a felony.

The autoritarian left makes no allowance for deviation from their scripture. Everyone else with a brain knows that exceptions must exist, because without them, the law becomes unjust. Beyond that, was the matter of historical record about what happened to crime rates in Morton Grove and Kennesaw after they wrote their ordinances. The gun control truth blog wrote back in 2013 about these effects:

Before the comparison begins, first let me point out a few differences in the two cities that could have an effect on the data. Kennesaw grew as a city over the next ten years or so, nearly doubling in population. This urbanization typically causes crime to increase. Morton Grove however began with a relatively low crime rate and a fairly urbanized city that remained constant throughout the next ten years. In a direct comparison, Kennesaw ought to be more predisposed for crime to increase. However, in reality, the opposite happened.

Immediately after the passage of Kennesaw’s law, the amount of burglaries was cut in half. Violent crime within the city dropped at all levels. The community did not suffer a murder for years after that, and according the police chief at the time that was done by a knife. The gun requirement acted as a deterrent for criminals around the city. According to a past police chief D. Wilson, inmates had contacted the government of Kennesaw with the message that they would avoid Kennesaw because of the gun requirement. Those criminals knew that their potential victims would probably be armed, and that fear caused them to go elsewhere. Other fears with a mandatory gun law include escalations in domestic violence and an increase in fatal accidents involving children. Since the law was enacted, neither has happened. In the decade after the law was passed, there were no instances of handguns used against spouses nor were there any instances of children being injured due to accidental discharge. That in itself supports the theory that guns are safe in the hands of a safe person.

Now that we have examined the effects of the law on the Kennesaw community, let us examine the effects in Morton Grove. The complete ban of private ownership of handguns did not cause crime to go down. In fact, violent crime increased by 15% in the city the following year. In the surrounding areas, crime increased only 3%. This increased rate stayed constant in the years after. Statistically speaking, the ban led to an increase in crime. Pundits can debate the reasons for this until we all puke, but it makes sense to think that the ban makes criminals more active. Either way, in this case, the ban did not have the effect of reducing crime.

Above Top Secret wrote in 2008:

After 25 years, Kennesaw and Morton Grove stand out as proof positive that the only gun control laws with any hope of reducing crime are laws which empower the law-abiding people rather than disarming them.

In Kennesaw, a town with an initially low but growing population transitioning into urban living, crime went down instead of up, as would have been predicted. Morton Grove's demography has not changed much in the years after its ban, and its crime levels when up. And even better fisking can be found here: Sgt Turnkey Blog:

Kennesaw and Morton Grove weren’t really a fair comparison when the experiment started. Kennesaw was pretty rural while Morton Grove was solidly suburban. Kennesaw had a population of only about 5500 while Morton Grove was closer to 23,000. And Kennesaw had a per capita crime rate significantly higher than the national average while Morton Grove enjoyed a relatively low crime rate. The fact is, Kennesaw was at a marked disadvantage from the beginning of this comparison. In the nearly three decades since these laws went into effect, Kennesaw’s disadvantage has grown rather than shrunk. While Morton Grove has remained at a fairly steady population, Kennesaw’s population has boomed to take a slight lead. While Morton Grove’s residents are slightly older than the national average, Kennesaw’s are significantly younger. Both towns are predominantly White, but Kennesaw has more Blacks and Hispanics while Morton Grove’s minority population is predominantly Asian. Statistically, Asian populations have the lowest crime rates of any minority while Blacks and Hispanics have the highest crime rates in the nation.

.....snip....

While Morton Grove’s per capita crime rate took a dramatic jump, deviating substantially from regional and national averages, right after passage of their gun ban, Kennesaw’s crime rate did the opposite in an even more dramatic way. After Kennesaw’s gun law was enacted crime dropped dramatically – much faster than federal, state, or local trends – and leveled out well below national averages. In spite of a population increase from 5000 to almost 30,000 during the same period, Kennesaw’s crime rates remain significantly lower than national or area averages. And the people of Kennesaw didn’t have to use their mandated firearms to affect this dramatic change.

Oh, and lest you think that Morton Grove learned their lesson in Constitutional Law in 2008, they did not. In 2013, they stepped on their own dick again, and passed an "assault weapons" ban. We shall see...

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