Bag The Colors And Pass The Ammunition

Every day is code green in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The town which made headlines 20 years ago this month has enjoyed low crime rates and offers many tips on fighting crime.

Perhaps it could teach the nation a thing or two about fighting terrorism as well.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge recently announced a color code to measure terrorist threats in this country. The code begins with the color green — indicating a low security risk — and from there escalates to blue, yellow, orange and red.

Director Ridge said that it may be several years before we sink below a level yellow alert — the color yellow meaning the level of risk is “elevated.”

Well, that may be true in most places. But not in Kennesaw, where residents are celebrating two decades of crime-free living.

Every day is code green in Kennesaw, Georgia.

It was twenty years ago this month that city officials embarked upon a bold experiment. They enacted a law requiring every household to own a firearm, exempting those with criminal records or religious objections.

The results of this experiment have been phenomenal, showing that armed citizens deter crime.

An early study (in 1982) found that the residential burglary rated in Kennesaw had fallen 89 percent in the seven months following the law’s enactment. That drop far outpaced the more modest 10.4 percent drop in the entire state of Georgia during that same period.

In the ensuing years, the crime rate has remained at basement levels. According to the Kennesaw Police Department, there was less than one property crime for every 1,000 people in 1998. That’s down from 11 such crimes per 1,000 residents in 1981 — the year before the gun law was enacted.

Now, let’s be honest. Kennesaw may not be the number one town on Osama bin Laden’s hit list. But it is fair to ask the question: if you were an al-Qaeda terrorist, where would you rather ply your trade?

Would you rather “work” in a city where your victims are legally disarmed, and they can’t shoot back? Or would you rather operate in a town like Kennesaw where guns are about as plentiful as water?

It is interesting to note that in Israel — a place where terrorism is a constant threat — armed citizens have been a perennial thorn in the side of Palestinian gunmen and suicide bombers.

Earlier this month, a shoe salesman was eating dinner with his wife in a Jerusalem nightclub, when a terrorist opened fire with an automatic firearm.

William Hazan grabbed a pistol out of his wife’s purse and shot the Palestinian, thus ending the terror. The gunman had explosives strapped to his body, but was effectively prevented from detonating the devices.

This heroic action came on the heels of another episode in late February when an alert citizen shot dead a terrorist who tried to set off an explosive device in an Efrat supermarket. The alert customer, who was a woman, was praised for saving the lives of many people.

Not to ignore a good thing, Israeli authorities are now trying to get even more citizens carrying guns. They recently announced that they will extend permits up to 60,000 additional citizens. And in some cases, authorities will even give away the guns for free.

Now, the Kennesaw ordinance does not force residents to carry firearms, but many of them do anyway. Wouldn’t it be great if Kennesaw officials expanded their experiment and encouraged citizens to carry the firearms which they are already required to own?

Hey, the idea of arming private citizens is saving lives in Israel. Why shouldn’t it work here in this country?

Ridge’s color code may help alert people to potential dangers, but it does nothing to help Americans protect themselves. Further, it does nothing to deter terrorists.

So bag the colors and pass the ammunition. Kennesaw has proven that guns in private hands increase the protection of average citizens.

And that’s why on this 20-year anniversary, we should remember: every day is code green in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America.