Judge refuses to block ban on guns in church; case moves forward

By Rhonda Cook – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Macon — A federal judge on Monday declined to block enforcement of a new Georgia law that bans guns in places of worship, but he also rejected a request to dismiss the suit brought last month by a group seeking to make the state less restrictive on guns.

“It’s not at all discouraging,” said John Monroe, the attorney who filed a lawsuit on behalf of a minister at a Thomaston church and GeorgiaCarry.org, gun-rights advocacy group.

U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal, in a 30-minute hearing, said he would base his final decision on the outcome of the lawsuit only on the writings submitted by Monroe and the attorney for the state and Upson County, where Thomaston is the county seat.

Royal’s ruling on the case likely won’t occur this summer.  Whatever his decision, legal analysts expect it to be taken to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court.

~Snip~

The case is believed to be the first in the country to be filed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Groups on both sides of the debate had predicted the next court fight over guns would center on the issue of bringing firearms into churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship.

“My major concern here is … about the implication that a person cannot take a gun to work,” Royal said.

According to the suit, the new Georgia law — called the “church carry statute” — prohibits Wilkins from having a weapon for protection when he is working alone at the church or when he is on the pulpit. In filings, the minister said he was having “to choose between two constitutional rights.”

“The handgun is the quintessential self-defense weapon in the United States,” the suit said.

Great news would have been for the judge to block the enforcement of the church carry provision.  His rejection of the state’s request to drop the suit is still very encouraging news.

The rest of the story can be found here.

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