In 1981, Morton Grove, Illinois became the first town in the U.S. to pass a flat out ban on the possession of handguns within the town limits by anyone except police and active duty military during the performance of their official duties. In response, the town of Kennesaw, Georgia passed a gun law of their own in March of 1982. The Kennesaw law was almost the exact opposite to the Morton Grove ordinance. Rather than banning handgun possession, Kennesaw required every head-of-household to keep at least one firearm and appropriate ammunition in their home – with exemptions for those who had religious or philosophical objections to maintaining or using weapons. In other words, gun ownership was mandatory except for people who didn’t want to own a gun.
Kennesaw and Morton Grove weren’t really a fair comparison when the experiment started. Kennesaw was pretty rural while Morton Grove was solidly suburban. Kennesaw had a population of only about 5500 while Morton Grove was closer to 23,000. And Kennesaw had a per capita crime rate significantly higher than the national average while Morton Grove enjoyed a relatively low crime rate.
Morton Grove’s relatively low crime rate went up by over 15% immediately after enactment of the ban (12% more than surrounding areas) and has held pretty steady at just a tad below the national average ever since. There has been no statistical indication of the handgun ban having any positive effect.
Kennesaw is a different story though. In 1982, the year the firearms requirement was enacted, Kennesaw realized a 74% reduction in crime against persons over the previous year. That rate then dropped 45% between 1982 and 1983. In fairness, statistics showing percentage increases or decreases in crime can be very misleading especially when crime numbers and the population are both low to begin with.
After 25 years, Kennesaw and Morton Grove stand out as proof positive that the only gun control laws with any hope of reducing crime are laws which empower the law-abiding people rather than disarming them.