Georgia’s Catholic and Episcopal churches are opting out of the state’s new expanded gun law.
Among other things, the expansive legislation signed by Gov. Nathan Deal (R) last week bans weapons from places of worship but gives religious leaders the authority to make exceptions to that ban for licensed gun owners. In the days since it was signed, senior religious leaders in the Catholic and Episcopal communities in Georgia have vowed not to allow such exceptions.
“[B]efore this legislation takes effect in July, I will officially restrict the presence of weapons in our Catholic institutions except for those carried by the people that civic authorities have designated and trained to protect and guard us — and those who are duly authorized law and military officials,” Catholic Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory wrote in an op-ed in this week’s Georgia Bulletin. Episcopal churches in Middle and North Georgia will follow a similar policy, the Diocese of Atlanta’s Bishop Robert Wright said in a statement this week.
The new law also allows licensed gun owners to carry the weapons into bars and some government buildings and modifies a number of other gun-related policies. Supporters and opponents describe the changes in exceptional terms. The National Rifle Association calls it ”the most comprehensive pro-gun bill in state history.” Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun-control group founded by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), calls it ”the most extreme gun bill in America.”
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