Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 18, 2012

Group asks court to review guns in church case

ATLANTA — A gun rights organization is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve differing decisions on whether states can ban firearms in churches and other places of worship.

GeorgiaCarry.org on Tuesday asked for a hearing before the high court on the basis that there’s a split among lower courts, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. In July, a federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld Georgia’s law banning guns in churches and other places of worship.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the law.

GeorgiaCarry and the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston had filed the suit. Wilkins has said he wanted to have a gun for protection while working in the church office.

In seeking the Supreme Court review, GeorgiaCarry maintains that two appellate courts differ on the matter: The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that covers Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; and the 11th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals that includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

In its filing with the Supreme Court, GeorgiaCarry maintains that the ban applying specifically to places of worship burdens “religiously motivated conduct by regulating how or what a worshipper can do with a weapon while he is worshipping.”

“On the other hand, the same worshipper is not burdened at all in the carriage of his weapon when he goes to the bank, eats dinner and has cocktails at a restaurant, rides a city bus, or walks down the street,” the petition states. “In other words, when the conduct is purely secular and unrelated to place of worship, the carry ban does not apply. When the conduct is religiously motivated, the carry ban applies.”

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