Strange laws that regulate a variety of activities exist all over the United States. They tend to be limited to smaller geographic areas (like counties or cities). There are many strange Georgia laws.
One particularly strange law in Kennesaw, Georgia requires every head of household to possess a firearm of some kind as well as ammunition. According to the law:
Sec. 34-21. – Heads of households to maintain firearms.
(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of households residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.
(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability, which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.
The reason smaller areas are able to have extremely specific laws that seems to address some problem a particular set of citizens had at one point in time (like public kissing in Halethorpe, Maryland) is that it is easier for an individual to have influence over the passage of local laws.
Need examples? Check out these strange laws around the country.
Other strange laws that may seem unnecessary or old fashioned to some are often laws that prohibit certain commercial activities on Sundays. These are known as blue laws. Blue laws have been around since the colonial period. They targeted personal activities considered by some to be moral offenses (such as the consumption of alcohol). These laws have roots in Christian beliefs. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that they do not violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause— which separates church and State. While many blue laws have been repealed, many others remain. They are either enforced or ignored based on each individual communities’ sensibilities.
Here are some examples of Georgia blue laws.
- It is illegal to sell two beers at once for a single price. 3-12§1(a)
- Bars may not hold a ‘lady’s night’. 3-12§1(d)
- No one may practice the business of tattooing on a Sunday. §14-60.3 Ord. No. 57-72§3
- Barbershops may not open on the Sabbath. §14-9 Code 1914§798
- Erotic dancing is prohibited on Sundays. Code of Ordinances 4.2.1
If a community’s views change or if something ceases to be a problem, a community will often ignore a strange law, and leave it on the books. This is because it is very expensive to repeal an existing law. In order to repeal or amend an existing law the same process that it took to pass the law must be followed. A new bill to either amend or repeal an existing law must be drafted and sponsored by a legislator. The relevant committee must recommend the bill and then it must secure enough votes in the legislature to pass. However, another way to look at strange laws is to see them as an example of how the United States allows its citizens to govern themselves according to their beliefs. If you have a question about the constitutionality or local laws where you live, contact Parks, Chesin & Walbert, P.C. at (404) 873-8000.