When an appeals court in Atlanta hears arguments Thursday about whether guns should be allowed in churches, they will hear a very different tactic -- advocates will argue the First Amendment (freedom of religion) rather than the Second Amendment (gun rights).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia is one of just four states in the nation that specifically prohibits guns in places of worship.
The gun group GeorgiaCarry.org, which brought the initial lawsuit, claims churches, not the state, should decide if guns should be allowed.
“It’s about whether or not the government should be making laws dealing with churches,” said GeorgiaCarry.org president Kelley Kinnett. “This is more of a First Amendment case than a Second Amendment case.”
In its brief, the group wrote that the gun ban forces worshipers to “abandon their inherent right to self defense through the most effective means available while observing their faith through regular attendance.”
Lawyers for the state disagree, saying say the gun ban makes it possible for “worshipers to focus on spiritual activities” instead of “protective vigilance.”
Whichever way the appeals court rules, the loser is likely to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in what would be yet another landmark decision in the ongoing battle over guns in our country.