Skip to comments.Ga. Lawmakers Push to Repeal Ban on Guns in Church
Posted on 02/19/2011 5:14:16 AM PST by marktwain
ATLANTA - A Georgia lawmaker says faithful church goers are sitting ducks, defenseless against a potential act of violence and some pastors agree. That's why they're pushing to repeal the state ban on guns in houses of worship.
State Representative Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would give the faithful the option to carry a gun to their house of worship, but others say that's one place that should be off limits to weapons.
The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in the Bill of Rights. But in Georgia and most other states, bearing arms in a place of worship is illegal. That's why some Georgia preachers are showing up on YouTube.com to push legislation that would change the state law.
Dr. Tony Romans is not on YouTube, but he does support the push for change as the senior pastor of North Peachtree Baptist Church in Dunwoody. Dr. Romans said he would not want everyone in the pews armed with a gun, yet he admits he's concerned that he cannot defend himself or his congregation from someone determined to open fire.
"It seems that people who would do ill will recognize that when the most innocent among us are injured, that sends a greater shock," said Dr. Romans. "To have someone on campus armed to defend us in case of an emergency puts us outside the law."
As it stands right now, carrying a gun or any other type of weapon into a place of worship is a misdemeanor in Georgia and in some cases it could even cost you your gun permit, but Pastor Romans says that's the type of prohibition that should be determined by the church, not the state.
"I would like to see something other than a strict prohibition of it," said Dr. Romans. "We would love our worshippers be able to defend each other."
Republican state Representative Bobby Franklin introduced House Bill 54 this year. The legislation would exclude places of worship from the list of locations where guns are currently prohibited.
"Something that's legal in other places the state should not tell you, a law abiding citizen that you're a sitting duck when you go to worship," said Rep. Franklin.
"This bill just illustrates the extremism that we're going to with the gun lobby," said Imam Plemon el-Amin.
Imam el-Amin said he believes there is no need to change the law and his mosque, Altanta Masjid al-Islam sits in a southeast Atlanta community that's been plagued with criminal activity. While Imam el-Amin says the mosque has never been a target, just last month across the street a clerk was killed during a convenience store robbery. Still, Imam el-Amin insists worshippers should never be armed, even in self-defense.
"It is our faith that is our protection, not the weapon," said Imam el-Amin. "Everybody being armed to the teeth is not going to decrease murder, its going to increase it."
Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz leads a congregation in Sandy Springs. She said she also opposes House Bill 54.
"What's the need of bringing weapons into a place where you're trying to reconnect yourself with God and the community?" asked Dr. Bortz.
If the bill passes, the rabbi says she will not change the policy banning weapons inside the sanctuary, but she will continue the long standing practice at the temple of having security guards outside at every service. Dr. Bortz said it's a necessary precaution against potential anti-Semitic violence.
"We have a right to protect ourselves," said Dr. Bortz. "The members of security are trained with a corporation and they have their own arms."
Ironically, that's the same sense of protection Pastor Romans would like to offer his Dunwoody congregation, but he says only designated church members would be allowed to bear arms within the walls of the sanctuary.
"I don't carry a weapon to church and I wouldn't. We ultimately don't see a gun in our pocket as our protector," said Pastor Romans. "But we know ultimately that there are people who go beyond the will of God and do ill to people."
Georgia is not the only state pushing for changes in the gun laws. This year, a Michigan lawmaker introduced a similar measure. Last year, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a law allowing designated worshippers who pass background checks and qualify for a concealed weapons permit to carry guns in houses of worship.
Rep. Franklin of Marietta is still trying to drum up support from fellow lawmakers and from religious leaders to help pass House Bill 54 this year.
Right now, the bill is still being evaluated at the committee level. Members of the House judiciary committee are fine tuning the details.
The money quote.
In Georgia, I carry concealed everywere....
Hmmm..it’s concealed, who would know?
If something happened in my church that required deadly force, the last thing I would worry about is a possible misdemeanor charge........
It would be nice though to have no restrictions....
The First Amendment clearly specifies that the government has no business deciding what goes on in church.
>>Imam el-Amin said he believes there is no need to change the law and his mosque, Altanta Masjid al-Islam sits in a southeast Atlanta community that’s been plagued with criminal activity.
Seriously?!? They go to an imam for a quote on this? Is this one of those semi-satire from AZ pieces?? Can the media just get any more stupid?
“Young folk, old folk, everybody come;
Join the happy Sunday School and have a lot of fun;
Please park your pistols and your razors at the door;
And you’ll hear some bible stories that you never heard before.”
Church's have to comply with the rule of law. They present plans to Towns just like an ordinary person. Everything falls under health, safety and welfare.
“On the other hand, why isn’t any state or federal law prohibiting what you can, or can’t, do in a Church, one of their famous “violations of Church and state?”
You have asked exactly the correct question, at the law specifically prohibits actions in houses of religion that are perfectly legal most other places.
The law was challenged on exactly this point:
(NewsCore) - MACON, Ga. — A federal judge in Georgia upheld a state law banning weapons in houses of worship late Monday, saying that gun rights advocates did not make their case that carrying a firearm is essential to the practice of their religion, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.
“The case was brought by gun rights organization GeorgiaCarry.org whose members argued that the Georgia law banning guns in church violated their right to bear arms and their right to freedom of religion. They added that being denied weapons in church created an impermissible burden.
Just more legislative straining at a gnat. As a resident of a state (OK) that has no direct restrictions on church carry, I have to wonder why can’t legislators look at similar states’ experiences in this matter and come to the realization that there is minimal/no risk in expanding freedom? I am especially puzzled at the product of legislative straining in LA that requires another level of training, certification, and licensing.
Freedom for thee but not for me Dr. Romans? I would much prefer to be able to protect myself thank you.
Doctor Roman's attitude is no different from the other elitists who want to place restrictions on the 2A and no different from my own pastor.
I live in Illinois where the discussion isn't even valid because no ordinary citizen can carry a gun anywhere other than in their home. I asked my pastor ,"if we ever get concealed carry here in Illinois, if he'd let me carry a gun to church". His answer was very disappointing, coming from a supposed conservative. He said if the law passes, that perhaps that he would keep a gun in the pulpit but not allow congregants to carry.
I let him know that if that situation ever comes up, I'd be finding a new church if he didn't find a new attitude and that it was elitist and very far from conservatism.
My church makes an announcement a couple of times a year to let everyone know that if there is ever a situation involving guns, it is never a play or drama, but the real thing. Everyone is asked to hit the floor, because we have many church members who carry guns and there is a plan in place to take care of the problem.
It makes sense for the church, not the state, to decide this. There is no compelling, or even passable state interest in what goes on inside a church as long as it is not illegal or creates a tangible threat.
Personally, I think the government has no business telling me what I can and cannot wear to church, but Virginia has the same stupid law. Ours has provision for carry with permission. As a deacon in my church I have such permission, but I would carry with or without it.
While he's at it I think he should add all government buildings, hospitals, and power plants to his bill. If you are a law-abiding citizen licensed to carry then there should be no restrictions on where you can protect yourself.