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No guns in church? Gun-rights advocates challenge Georgia law

October 7, 2011 |  8:01 am

Gun
In Georgia, it sometimes seems that that no one is happy with the state of things on Sundays.

Some secular types don't like the fact that they are prohibited from buying beer at the grocery store on the Christian Sabbath.

And some gun-rights advocates are peeved that a state law prevents them from packing heat in the pews.

The long-standing "blue law" ban on alcohol, however, could be lifted soon -- at least in some parts of the state. And, if a gun-rights group has its way, so will the ban on bringing guns to church.

GeorgiaCarry.org's challenge of the state guns-in-church ban was before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on Thursday, where lawyers for the gun-rights group and another plaintiff, the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston, Ga., argued that the law is unconstitutional because it violates religious freedoms, the Associated Press reports.

The three judges on the panel had technical issues with the lawsuit, and Circuit Judge Ed Carnes asked if there was a Bible passage that would justify allowing guns in church.

Plaintiff's attorney John Monroe was reportedly unable to quote any pertinent scripture.

Perhaps courtroom etiquette barred Monroe from calling upon the powers of Google -- for the Internet runneth over with Biblical justifications for gun rights.

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America ("the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington," according to Rep. Ron Paul of Texas), provides a detailed Christian defense of gun rights that starts with Cain's fratricide, noting that "the evil in Cain's heart was the cause of the murder, not the availability of the murder weapon."

"God's response was not to ban rocks or knives, or whatever, but to banish the murderer," Pratt contends.

He also quotes from Exodus: "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed."

The court's ruling is not expected for a number of weeks.

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-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Photo: In Arizona, a man keeps a .45-caliber handgun on his waist. To do so in a Georgia church would be illegal -- at least for now. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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