Guest Opinion

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Armed and dangerous town

Thanks to a new local ordinance, some mighty high caliber people live in Geuda Springs, Kansas.

That's where, according to The Week magazine, council members recently decided that every homeowner in the small town (population: 210) must keep a gun in the house. If they fail to do so, they will have to, pardon the expression, shell out for a $10 fine.

"Officials said homeowners had to protect themselves, since Geuda Springs can't afford a police force," noted the magazine.

As a result of the new ordinance, the town may soon resemble a place out of the Old West. No one - not even preachers, teachers or little, blue-haired ladies - will be exempt from the pistol packing policy.

Although the article didn't note what kind of weapons constitute "guns" - pistols, shotguns or rifles - it's probably safe to assume that shoulder-held missile launchers won't be acceptable.

One shop owner has already adopted a gunslinger attitude.

"Everybody out of town is making this their business. It's nobody's business but our own." We can only surmise that his hand was caressing the grip of a trusty, pearl-handled six-shooter at his hip when he spat out those words.

Actually, the new gun policy should be the business of anyone who might decide to drive through the town and inadvertently become a moving target. Door-to-door salesmen, evangelists, cosmetic sales ladies and Girl Scouts selling cookies might become discouraged when they look down the barrel of a gun once too often when a front door is opened. On the upside, the ordinance in Geuda Springs might signal the end of bothersome "door spam."

Like it or not, every homeowner will be required to own a gun, even if those same people are unable to drive a car or operate dangerous machinery. (In a complete reversal, constitutional lawyers should be expected to descend upon the town and argue that the residents also have rights NOT to bear arms.)

We can only hope that people unable to afford a gun will have one provided by the town council and that all residents will have open access to gun safety classes, ammunition and a practice range. If the council decides to provide guns, will those guns be included with future house sales?

A classified ad might read, "House for sale: 3-BR, 2-Bath, featuring unique bullet-ridden entry and 12-gauge shotgun, slightly used."

In Geuda Springs, the most comforting words a husband or wife might hear wouldn't be "I love you", but "Go ahead and answer the door, dear, I've got you covered."

We can only wonder what future ordinances might be in store for the small community, which admittedly has created a very unique method of population control. The next move might require every resident to have a full pail of water sitting by their kitchen door because the town can no longer afford a fire department.

In lieu of a hospital or medical center, both unaffordable, the city fathers might provide every home with a do-it-yourself surgery kit.

A "teach your kids what they need to know " campaign could eliminate the need for expensive schools. The municipal cost-cutting possibilities are endless.

(After this column was written, the mayor of Geuda Springs vetoed the ordinance, but it will be reconsidered in February.)

* Carol Acterhof is an author and public speaker from the Iowa Great Lakes area.