GeorgiaCarry.org is suing Georgia over the state’s open carry law. The law states that people can’t carry a gun into a church as well as a few other places. Since 2007 the organization, that was founded to “protect the Second Amendment”, has been fighting cities and counties in Georgia to repeal gun laws. With their sights now on a state law, they claim that the restriction against openly carrying a gun at church restricts their right to exercise their freedom of religion.
Yes, you read that correctly. The group claims that the restriction that prevents the carrying of a gun in church restricts the right to exercise the freedom of religion. They suggest that they would not be able to protect themselves and their families if they don’t have a gun. Therefore, that fear prevents them from going to church.
The Constitution’s Second Amendment does protect the right to bear arms. It states:
- “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
According to the debates on the Constitution that swirled around at the time, the authors were concerned that a strong military could be used against the country’s citizens. That is partly why they wrote in the document that funding for the military should not be longer than two years. The country, though, still needed to be defended in times of crisis. The response was to ensure that each state had a militia that was armed and trained. Yes, of course, they also knew at the time, many people needed a gun for hunting and protecting themselves from the “savages” that lived on the frontier.
The news reports don’t say why Georgia felt they needed a law that restricts the open carry of weapons in churches. Communities need a real reason that is supported by evidence to enact any law. Since the arguments made by those that would like the law declared unconstitutional were not about why Georgia made the law, it is hoped that the state had a solid reason.
The issues here are about both the Constitution and a reasonable response of a community to a concern it has. The Constitution does clearly state a right to own a weapon. The Georgia law didn’t disregard the constitution all together by outlawing the ownership of guns. Chicago and Washington, D. C. tried that. The gun ownership laws in those cities were struck down by the Supreme Court.
That doesn’t mean that congress or a legislature in a state can’t prescribe reasonable guidelines for the right to carry a gun. A community, in this case the people of Georgia, through there rightfully elected legislature, has the right to say that even though we can own guns, we just can’t carry or use them in situations where there is a perceived danger. Would anyone argue that we can own a gun and fire them where we want? Or, that we should be able to carry a grenade launcher into a bank?
If GeorgiaCarry.org thinks that people should be able to carry guns when they go to church and Georgia can’t demonstrate a reason they should not be able to, okay. But to say that it prevents people from exercising their freedom of religion, is a none argument.
Georgia didn’t make the ownership of weapons illegal. An over reaching response to any concern by the community would be to make guns illegal to own under all circumstances. According to the Constitution, people do have the right to own guns. But no right is absolute and responsible communities can prescribe reasonable restrictions on any right.