Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Zonkey, Nelson, Archer & Kaufman: Legal Matters Down South

Back in April I wrote a post about a new law that had just been adopted in the town of Nelson, GA, requiring that every head of household there own a firearm. Shortly afterwards someone who read that post was so inspired--possibly by my dazzling prose, but more likely by the original news story that I cited--as to write her own blogular web posting about the matter. Either way, the important thing is that “Zonkey”, as this person is known, had nice things to say about my post. I don’t get many compliments, so upon receiving even a little bit of validation, well, if I were a resident of Nelson, GA, I would gleefully shoot my municipally-mandated firearm in the air like this guy:

On account of the Nelson gun law including such broad exemptions as to virtually negate itself, I figured the Nelson council members to be a bunch of idiots. Zonkey, however, suggested that the law itself was a deliberate joke, and that the Nelson lawmakers aren’t so much morons as well-humored pranksters.

A zonkey, by the way, is the rare spawn of a zebra and a donkey, and is one of a number of animal oddities that falls under the broader category of “zebroids.”

Zebras, it seems, are a randy lot, and will mate with all manner of other horsey-type animals--mules, donkeys, David Schwimmer, etc. And along with the funny-looking striped quadrupeds that result when zebras and other equines "make it" come made-up hybrid names to describe them. There's not much standardization in the world of zebroid etymology, though, and each cross-breed may be known by several different names—hence there's a whole herd of words to describe all the different zebroids, including: zedonk, zorse, zebrule, donkra, horbra, hebra, zebrinny, zebrass and zebonkey. Though seeing as my source for all this was Wikipedia, I have to wonder if somebody didn't just lift all those words from fight scenes in the old Batman TV show.

Not to prolong this tangent (which is to say, "I'm about to prolong this tangent"), zonkeys have coincidentally been in the news recently, on account of one was born in Italy a few weeks ago.
The new baby zonkey, or let's say, "bazonkey" for short. Or how about "zonkaby"?

In another strange coincidence, one of the only other known zonkeys currently in the world lives about 40 miles from the town of Nelson, at The Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, in Dahlonega, Georgia.

That's right, I wear a hot-pink halter. I've also got striped legs. You wanna keep staring? Go fuck yourself.

Yeah, so, getting back to the topic at hand. After reading Zonkey’s take on the gun ordinance, I must admit that in the past I never gave Georgians much credit, especially where intellect and humor are concerned—after all, my impression of southerners is based entirely on Andy Kaufman’s “I’m From Hollywood” video.

Maybe Zonkey's right—maybe the Nelsonites have a gun fetish and a sense of humor. We may never know for sure, but either way, I don't want to (maybe) underestimate Georgians again, so I'm not ruling out the seemingly absurd possibility that the “Zonkey Thoughts” blog actually might be written by the Chestatee Zonkey. The close proximity to Nelson would certainly explain the interest in that town’s legal antics. And the whole “being a zonkey” thing could certainly result in having a humorous outlook on the world.

Anyway, Zonkey also pointed out that the town of Nelson is being sued over their kooky law. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has filed suit against the town on behalf of one of its residents.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in May filed a federal lawsuit against Nelson, a city of roughly 1,300 residents about 50 miles north of Atlanta, saying a recently adopted ordinance requiring heads of household to own a gun and ammunition is unconstitutional.

"We definitely think this law is misguided and unconstitutional in Nelson and anywhere else where it's passed," lawyer Jonathan Lowy of the Washington-based Brady Center said in a recent interview. "But it's also important to send a message to other jurisdictions around the country that might be inclined to pass similar misguided, unconstitutional laws."

The city's response? For that you'll have to ask David Archer, Nelson's insurance company-appointed lawyer.

"I don't think there was ever any intention of the city of Nelson to enforce the ordinance. I think it was a political statement that they made."

See, there's no need to get all litigious--the law wasn't meant to be serious. Point Zonkey!

Speaking of jokes, what's funny here is that Duane Cronic and the rest of the Nelson council thought they could get away with passing a law for purely editorial purposes. Other people, hilariously, didn't see it the same way.

Lamar Kellett, who lives in Nelson and is a member of the Brady Center, spoke against the ordinance at the City Council meeting and said it would have no effect on people like him who didn't own a gun and didn't want one. But several weeks later he went out and spent nearly $700 on a handgun and ammunition, according to the Brady Center's lawsuit.

Kellett said he doesn't qualify for the law's exemptions because he doesn't conscientiously oppose gun ownership — he just doesn't want to own one.

"How does a citizen like myself know that that will be true in the future or even next week?" Kellett said this week of the council's decision not to enforce the law.

Lowy, the Brady Center lawyer, agreed: "There's no guarantee that a law that's on the books will not be enforced," he said.

So, it turns out the unwritten "not meant to be enforced" provision of the law has a loophole. It's a Silliness Smackdown!

Finally, I've just learned that the suit has been settled.

The small city of Nelson, Ga., agreed Thursday to revise an ordinance passed earlier this year that required every household to own a gun.

While Nelson lost the fight, they did manage to cling to their gun law. Rather than see it struck down they agreed to amend the legislation so that it now proclaims itself meaningless. Joke or not, at least the Nelson lawmakers are sticking to their guns. (Pun intended, because I'm also hilarious.)

(c)  Because the United States Constitution protects the rights of Americans to choose not to own or maintain a gun in their homes, subsections (a) and (b) of the Family Protection Ordinance are not enforceable and shall never be enforced and no disability, penalty or adverse consequence shall attach to any violation thereof.

While that pretty much covers it, I would propose one final added provision so that nothing is left unstated.

d) This Ordinance shall be considered a giant slap in the face to the taxpayers of the City of Nelson; WHEREAS, the elected officials of said municipality have been paid to spend their time writing a bogus law that then had to be amended to explicitly affirm its bogusness consequent to a big lawsuit; WHEREAS ALSO, at least the city's lawyer is paid by the insurance company, but FORTHWITH, it is hoped that the city's insurance premiums don't go up on account of this whole debacle.

That should do it.

Thanks, first of all, to Zonkey for bringing this issue back to my attention, and to zorses, horbras, hebras and bazonkabies everywhere just for being themselves.