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TheStreet Open House

Utah Town Makes Arming Households A Top Priority

The community is still reeling from the double-murder on New Year's Eve 2011 of an elderly couple in nearby Mount Pleasant. Sorensen said what used to be a peaceful, quiet town has been sullied by increasing criminal activity.

Thefts of metal for scrap and other property also have become a problem, Councilman Boyd Mickel said.

"We are kind of tired of people breaking in and taking stuff," said Mickel, explaining why he voted to urge every house to have a gun.

Timm Thompson, a coal miner and father of four girls who lives in Spring City, backs the council's measure.

"People think small towns are a good place to live," Thompson said. "But there is more crime and drugs than you can imagine."

Thompson, who owns 78 guns he keeps locked in a safe, doesn't want teachers to act as police officers. He said some kids are "hooligans" and could overpower teachers for the guns.

Sisters Katy Harmer and Caroline Lott, however, say arming teachers would make them feel better about sending their children to the Spring City Elementary School. The co-owners of the town's coffee shop, Das Coffee, said most Spring City residents keep guns for hunting, leaving only a handful without weapons.

Angela Johnson, owner of the Sinclair gas station, said she doesn't like guns but backs the council's proposal.

"If criminals knew they would be fired against, I think it would cause pause," Johnson said.

Because the Spring City Council is stopping short of a law requiring gun ownership, elected officials won't run afoul of state law, former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told KSL.com.

Shurtleff said that when the Washington County town of Virgin enacted a local law in 2000 requiring households to keep guns, he warned them against trying to enforce the measure.

Spring City leaders say they got the idea from a city in Georgia that passed a similar law. In 1982, Kennesaw, Ga., made headlines by requiring heads of households to own a gun and ammunition. On its website, Kennesaw boasts that its burglary rate declined after the law took effect.

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