Group proposing county resolution to encourage gun ownership - FOX 35 News Orlando

Group proposing county resolution to encourage gun ownership

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OCALA, Fla. (WOGX FOX 51) -

Donald Barber is serious about keeping his chicks safe.

The Ocklahawa feed store owner takes his gun to work every day.  He said last month a domestic dispute broke out at a gas station down the street and shots were fired.

"I don't worry about that at my store," said Barber. "All of my customers know I open carry."

Now Barber and other members of the group called Marion County Campaign for Liberty want to ensure every citizen in the county is protected.

Jim Burkiewicz runs the local chapter.  He and his wife Julia are introducing a resolution at the county commissioners' meeting on Tuesday.  Their resolution strongly encourages every head of household to own a gun and know the proper way to use and maintain it.

"It also gives criminals notice that they're not wanted in Marion County," said Burkiewicz.

Supporters said increased responsible gun ownership would lower crime.

"Just in case police or any types of that nature can't be there to help you in your time of need," said Tom Guilford, who supports the resolution.

The group modeled the 10-page resolution after one already in place in Kennesaw, GA. That resolution passed in the early 80s.

"You were absolutely safe," said Julia Burkiewicz. "You did not drive five miles an hour over the speed limit because cops had nothing to do."

"I think it's really more effective to let the criminal element know that this is not a place that you want to rob," said Barber.

The resolution in Georgia first mandated every eligible homeowner must own a gun.  This proposed resolution is a recommendation, not a mandate.

"This is absolutely not a mandate," said Julia Burkiewicz. It's a resolution to encourage the good citizens of Marion County to arm themselves."

Commissioners declined to comment on the resolution on Monday. Barber said the group recently met with each commissioner.

"They seem inclined to accept it," said Barber.

On the flip side, critics argue crime is falling in Marion County and across the state.

Barber said there is always room for improvement.

"Crime wasn't higher than the national average, but it went even further down," said Barber.

Those opposed to owning a gun because of moral reasons would be exempt. Anyone with a mental illness or anyone who with a relative who has a mental illness in their household would also be exempt.

Convicted felons and those who cannot afford a weapon also would not have to own a gun.

"I would say to critics who say we don't need this, I hope your daughter isn't a victim of something that could have been prevented," said Julia Burkiewicz.

City leaders in Belleview rejected a similar measure in 2009.

The Marion County Commissioners' meeting starts at 9am on Tuesday.

If the resolution is approved in Marion County, supporters hope larger cities such as Orlando and Tampa would adopt similar measures in the future, as well.

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