The U.S. city where owning a gun is the law

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KENNESAW, Ga. (CNN) -- While Washington debates whether to ban bump stocks, raise the minimum purchasing age, or even arm teachers, there might not be another community watching as closely as Kennesaw, Georgia.

In this Atlanta suburb, the law says a gun is a requirement, reading "every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm."

"If you're going to commit a crime in Kennesaw and you're the criminal. Are you going to take a chance that that homeowner is a law abiding citizen?" Mayor Derek Easterling asks.

The law isn't really enforced. And, while some assume it's an ancient law, it actually passed in 1982.

"It was meant to be kind of a crime deterrent," Kennesaw Police Lt. Craig Graydon explained. "It was also more or less a political statement because the city of Morton Grove, Illinois passed a city ordinance banning handguns from their city limits."

Thirty-five years later, the law remains on the books in Kennesaw.

"People kind of get the image that it's the Wild West where everybody walks around with a firearm strapped to their side and it's not like that," one resident Wayne Arnold said.

What it is, though, is one of Georgia's safest cities, with only one murder in the last six years.

"We can't say that just that gun law contributes x number of percent to why we have a low crime rate. It may be part of it but it needs to be looked at from a whole picture," Graydon said. "Ultimately you've got to decide in your local community what's best for you."

Across the country, many communities are re-examining their own relationship with guns, in the wake of deadly mass shootings like Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and Parkland, all within the last six months.

In Kennesaw, when it comes to public safety, city officials say their relationship with the community is a big factor.

"The first thing that most people say when they meet us, you know as a community is 'oh it's not what I expected'," Easterling says.

From the outside, for many, it's hard to know what to expect. It's why they get calls from places all over the country and as far away as Norway - all of them curious about a place where firearms are literaly written into its existence.