The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from GeorgiaCarry.org, which wanted the justices to overturn a state law banning firearms in churches and other places of worship.
Republican state Rep. Christian Coomer said he’s not surprised, because the decision should belong to the state.
“That said, my personal opinion is that if a person can qualify to obtain a license to carry in Georgia, he should be able to carry anywhere other than a jail, courthouse or law enforcement office,” the Cartersville attorney said.
Coomer said he supports eliminating other existing restrictions — at general government buildings, churches and nuclear plants.
“I’m not saying you should bring a gun to church, but it’s not appropriate for the state to say it’s a crime,” he said. “Private citizens have this right, and it should not be taken from them absent a compelling public interest.”
State Sen.-elect Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said he hasn’t seen any legislation yet, and his vote would depend on the provisions in whatever bill may come to the floor.
“I support the Second Amendment, but I also support the right of individuals and businesses to restrict guns if they don’t want them on their property,” Hufstetler said.
An incoming House Republican, Charles Gregory of Kennesaw, has pre-filed bills that would do away with many restrictions on carrying guns, including in churches.
State Rep.-elect Eddie Lumsden, R-Rome, echoed Hufstetler’s caution, saying it’s premature to make a blanket statement in support of unvetted legislation.
“In general, I prefer less restriction, not more,” Lumsden said. “But with any piece of legislation, you have to consider it as a whole.”
The lawsuit brought by GeorgiaCarry and the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston had argued that the ban applying specifically to places of worship burdens “religiously motivated conduct.” Wilkins had said he wanted to have a gun for protection while working in the church office.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused to reconsider that ruling.
Staff writer Diane Wagner contributed to this report.