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Georgia town passes law requiring residents to own guns

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - A small Georgia town on Monday passed a law requiring the head of each household to own a gun as a way to keep crime down.

The ordinance, approved unanimously by the City Council in Nelson, is symbolic, however, because there is no penalty for violating it, according to Councilman Duane Cronic, who introduced the measure last month.

It serves as an expression of support for gun rights and sends a message to would-be criminals, Cronic said.

The measure was passed amid the debate over gun laws in the United States following the December shooting rampage in which a gunman killed 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school.

The Nelson ordinance exempts convicted felons, residents with physical and mental disabilities and those who do not believe in owning firearms, Cronic said.

Crime in Nelson, which has only one police officer, consists mainly of petty theft, Cronic said. Some 1,300 people live in the town, about 50 miles north of Atlanta.

Last month similar proposed gun ordinances were rejected in the small towns of Byron and Sabbatus in Maine.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Mohammad Zargham)

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