A Georgia gun activist group is trying to overturn a state law that prohibits people from bringing guns into religious establishments.
Last Thursday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta heard arguments from GeorgiaCarry.org, on whether or not the law violates First Amendment’s religious freedoms.
The group is asking that individual churches have the right to make decisions for themselves, according to the International Business Times.
A three- judge panel heard the case last Thursday and a written opinion will be issued in a few weeks.
GeorgiaCarry.org said they “will not stop until our nation’s forefather’s promise of ‘shall not be infringed’ is achieved," in a written statement.
This issue refers to the 2010 “Common Sense” gun bill, which was passed in the General Assembly and signed into law on June 6 by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.
The Associated Press reported that a judge said he was unclear as to how the law affected the freedom of religion. Lawyers pointed out that if guns were allowed, people would not be able to focus on “spiritual activities.”
However, GeorgiaCarry.org points to the numerous church shootings and rising issues of gun violence in religious institutions as a reason to let individuals carry the weapons for means of self-defense.
In Florida last month, a former deacon shot and wounded the pastor and associate pastor of his church before worshippers could tackle him to the ground.
“This is more of a first amendment issue case than a second amendment case. It’s about whether or not the government should be making laws dealing with churches,” Kelly Kennett, president of GeorgicaCarry.org, told the Atlantic Journal- Constitution.
“Churches should be treated like any other private property owner. Why are you treating people at churches differently than how you’d be treated at a store, at a bank, at a club?” Kennett told AP.
The gun activist group is also concerned that the ban on weapons in places of worship potentially decreases a church’s overall safety factor.
The website notes the shared belief that churches are known to have lots of cash from tithes, perhaps inviting criminals to attack, which in their opinion increases a churchgoer’s need to bear arms.
GeorgiaCarry.org worker Jerry Henry told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, “Why would you not want to take a gun? Putting up this gun-fee zone (in places of worship) makes that place accessible to attack.”
Laws banning weapons in churches exist in Arkansas, Mississippi and North Dakota.
The “Common Sense” law also prohibits guns in government buildings, courthouses, jails, prisons, state mental health facilities, bars, and nuclear power facilities and within 150 feet of polling places.