Eleventh Circuit Upholds Georgia Carry Law

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 24, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Georgia church-goers can't simultaneously cling to God and guns on church property.

Friday, the Atlanta-based court upheld a Georgia ban on guns in churches.

GeorgiaCarry.org, the group that initially brought the lawsuit, claimed that the church gun ban stifles religious freedom. The group argued that churches should be allowed to decide whether they want to allow guns inside, citing examples of church shootings as support for why worshippers should be allowed to bring guns to church, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Pro-gun churchgoers noted that churches are open, vulnerable, and prime targets for criminals looking for a quick cash grab, (thanks to to cash on hand in the offering plate).

The state, on the other hand, maintained that permitting guns in houses of worship supplants the spiritual experience with an atmosphere of "protective vigilance," according to the Christian Post.

The district court dismissed the lawsuit for failure to state a claim for relief. The plaintiffs appealed, claiming that the Georgia Carry Law interfered with their free exercise of religion by prohibiting them from bringing guns into a place of worship, even though guns are allowed in most public gatherings throughout the state.

Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat, writing for the three-judge panel, concluded that the desire to carry guns in church was a personal preference unrelated to the free exercise of religion. Judge Tjoflat noted, "The Supreme Court has reiterated time and time again that personal preferences and secular beliefs do not warrant the protection of the Free Exercise Clause."

The plaintiffs are disappointed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision, and weighing a Supreme Court appeal, reports The Associated Press.

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