Guns in Church Case in Georgia

Looks like some folks in Georgia are suing over the state law that prohibits guns in churches. At the first stage, it would seem to have not managed to get a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law. The lawsuit also makes a First Amendment claim. This is an interesting case, but not one I think is wise to make this early. We need the Courts to say there’s a right to carry outside the home first. Heller strongly implied that there was, but I’m not sure the case I’m comfortable doing that with is a fairly narrow ban of guns in churches. At some point we’re going to need to litigate on this issue, but I don’t think now is the time.

11 thoughts on “Guns in Church Case in Georgia”

  1. “This is an interesting case, but not one I think is wise to make this early.”

    So when is it time to make the case that the government has no business telling a preacher he can’t carry a gun in his own church?

    I think that now is an excellent time to ask the government to justify their intrusion in this private sphere.

  2. Wilkins said he has a constitutional right to be armed in church, which is now prohibited under state law.

    I can’t say I disagree, subject to property rights.

    I understand that to lay people, wanting to carry a firearm in church sounds bad, but I’ll bet the Knoxville Unitarians might not think so.

    Seems to me that this is as good a case as any (maybe even more so).

  3. You’d want a ruling first that would say there was a right to carry a firearm for self-protection, and you’d want that to be a pretty flagrant prohibition, such as DC’s, where the Court doesn’t have to decide too much other than “Yes, you have a right to carry.”

    The problem with this case is that there’s the issue of carry, and on top of that you have the issue that the prohibition is restricted to churches.

    Keep in mind that most federal judges are not sympathetic to the idea of a broad Second Amendment. The trick in a legal strategy is to win little by little, and build up enough case law that you can use to win future cases.

    The time to go after something like this is when you have a right to carry outside the home, and we’re left with arguing over the finer details of that. If you look at Gura’s strategy, it’s been to bring cases where the issue is very straightforward, and not ask the Courts to decide too many concurrent issues. So far that’s worked out pretty well, so I’m inclined to stick with it.

  4. Baby steps are all well and good, and I appreciate that Alan Gura’s on our case.

    But given that SCOTUS has ruled on more than one occasion that the police have no duty to protect individual citizens, how then, am I to protect myself against criminals if I’m denied the means?

    And why can this case not be the one that recognizes the right to protect yourself outside of the home? Given there is little dispute that a church is not a magic talisman against criminals, why should we give up 2nd amendment rights when we exercise our 1st amendment rights?

  5. We recognize that, but you have to get federal judges to recognize that. I’m not at all saying this case is doomed to failure, but that it’s asking multiple questions of Courts in a context where they may not be comfortable ruling in our favor.

  6. seems pretty simple to me. Guy’s a preacher in his own church. What governmental authority do they believe they have to tell him that because his building is a church, he cannot carry there?

    This isn’t an argument about whether or not a generally agreed upon principle is right or wrong, it is an argument about whether or not the government has the authority to tell you that you cannot do something (now a fundamental right) on your own property just because you let people worship God there.

  7. This really looks more like a case of the government passing a law that unduly restricts otherwise lawful conduct solely due to the fact that that it occurs in a church. A blanket ban on regulated in church carry should fall under a First Amendmet challenge without dealing with Second Amendment issues because the claim does not address carry in general, just the restrictions on the conduct of the staff and patrons of a church.

  8. To better understand why this case now:

    Georgia law was just upgraded to allow carry, concealed and open, of just about anything just about anywhere. Long description short, carry in church is the next logical step given the laws in GA; it’s an easy straightforward case, as contrasted with other carry issues involving alcohol, airports, or schools.

    I know it may not suit some of you in other jurisdictions with other arrangements of laws to cope with; in GA we have the laws we have, and church carry is the next step.

  9. FWIW, my church meets in a hotel conference room. All week it is legal to carry there, except for 9:00am-1:00pm Sunday. Just standing in that room, you can go from legal to illegal and back without doing a thing. Since the only factor is the gun (whether you participate in the 1st Amendment right at that location is irrelevant; for example hotel staff servicing that conference room has nothing to do with the nature of the activity therein at that time) it’s a 2nd Amendment issue.

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