KENNESAW, Georgia (Reuters) - The Virginia Tech killings have set off calls for tighter U.S. gun laws but anyone wanting to know why those demands likely will make little headway should visit Kennesaw, a town where owning a gun is both popular and mandatory.
The town north of Atlanta had little prominence until it passed a gun ordinance in 1982 that required all heads of a household to own a firearm and ammunition.
Kennesaw's law was a response to Morton Grove, Illinois, which had passed a gun ban earlier that year as a step to reduce crime.
But it also was an affirmation of what gun advocates say is a blanket U.S. constitutional right, under the Second Amendment, for citizens to keep and bear arms. Gun opponents challenge that right and say the language in the Constitution is open to interpretation.
The Kennesaw law has endured as the town's population has swelled to about 30,000 from 5,000 in 1982.
"When the law was passed in 1982 there was a substantial drop in crime ... and we have maintained a really low crime rate since then," said police Lt. Craig Graydon. "We are sure it is one of the lowest (crime) towns in the metro area.
Residents say they are comfortable with the image the gun law projects on the city as a bastion of gun freedom.