Georgia minister sues to take guns to church | ajc.com
A Thomaston minister and a gun rights advocacy group is filing lawsuit challenging Georgia’s prohibition against guns in church, a move that was predicted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month the Second Amendment's guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applied to state and local gun control laws.
“They had indicated they would do that,” Alice Johnson, executive director of Georgians for Gun Safety, a group that supports more restrictions on weapons, said of the suit which is to be filed in Upson County.
The suit, mailed Friday to the Superior Court in Upson County, is brought by GeorgiaCarry.org; the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston; Ed Stone, the president of GeorgiaCarry.org and the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins. The suit lists Upson County and the state as defendants.
Those for less as well as more restrictions on guns had said last month places of worship would be the next battle over where permitted gun owners can take their weapons. Georgia law was changed this year to remove the prohibitions of guns at “public gatherings” but it banned firearms in certain places – places of worship, government buildings, schools, nuclear power plants and bars without the owner’s permission.
“The handgun is the quintessential self-defense weapon in the United States,” the suit said.
The suit said Georgia law says people with permits to carry firearms "are not prohibited from carrying firearms throughout the state except for certain places.”
The suit cites the First Amendment freedom of religion and the Second Amendment right to bear arms as grounds for bringing the case.
According to the suit, Ed Stone, president of GeorgiaCarry.org, and others want to be able to arm themselves while worshiping “for the protection of their families and themselves" without fear of arrest and prosecution.
The suit also said Wilkins often works long hours alone at the Baptist Tabernacle and needs to be able to protect himself and during services " for the protection of his flock, his family, and himself, but he is in fear of arrest and prosecution under the carry ban for doing so. The Tabernacle would like to have members armed for the protection of its members attending worship services and other events at the Tabernacle's place of worship.”
The Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision on June 28 said the Second Amendment guaranteed a person the right to have a gun in the home for protection but the justices left open to state and local governments as to where the lines could be drawn beyond the home.
The experts and advocates on both sides of the debate said many court cases would be filed to find those lines.
“I think that the test that the Supreme Court has set out is where is it reasonable to allow firearms and where is it reasonable to restrict them,” said Johnson. “This is one more action … to test that. We’ll see what the courts decide. It continues to draw attention from the general public to those very questions: What is reasonable where firearms don’t belong?”
Johnson said research by Georgians for Gun Safety had found “the citizens of Georgia do not believe that guns should be in church.”
John Monroe, the attorney for GeorgiqCarry.org, said this suit was stronger than other cases the group had brought because it also has the First Amendment component.
“The question is why do you want to disarm people in church?” Monroe said. “Things happen in church…. What we really want is the state not to say what can happen in church.”
We have the same issue here in Mississippi. Hope he is successful and that MS wakes up too.