Nucla ordinance requiring gun ownership could be challenged by Brady Center

Earlier this month, the town of Nucla passed a rule requiring heads of households to own guns.

Nucla isn't the first community to issue such an edict: It's following the lead of Nelson, Georgia, whose recently approved ordinance has already prompted a lawsuit from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (see the complete suit and ordinance below). And a Brady Center representative tells us the organization hasn't ruled out suing Nucla, too.

Says Jonathan Lowy, the director of the center's legal action project, "We're looking into and analyzing the Nucla ordinance to see if it's something we can get involved in."

According to the Montrose Press, the Nucla rule, which was approved by a 5-1 vote of the town's council, features text that almost duplicates the Nelson ordinance. The latter is a one-page document that portrays the requirement of household heads to own a firearm as a way to "provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants."

The only individuals exempted from the regulation are otherwise qualifying individuals who "suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm," plus "paupers" (those who can't afford a gat, presumably), former felons, and individuals who "conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine" -- language that recalls common parlance related to the Vietnam-era military draft.

The sole Nucla official to vote against the ordinance reportedly did so because he found it to be merely symbolic, as well as unenforceable. But it still troubles the Brady Center's Lowy.

"We believe it's unconstitutional to require people to buy firearms and bring them into their home," Lowy says. "Just as there is a constitutional right under Supreme Court rulings for law-abiding, responsible citizens to have a gun in their home if they choose, there's also a right for law-abiding, responsible citizens to choose not to have a firearm in their home." Continue for more of our interview with the Brady Center's Jonathan Lowy, plus the complete ordinance and lawsuit.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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