Jesus, Guns and Georgia

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 12 months ago

The Colorado shooting has brought out the worst in analytical reasoning in what I had called (in a different context) confused and goofy Christians who “forgot all about their theology and think that a new regulation, law or treaty will bring peace on earth and good will toward men.”  There is David Gibson at Huffington Post, and Chuck Currie at Huffington Post, and others.  Gun control is certainly a religious issue (at least for me), as I discussed in Let He Who Has No Gun Sell His Robe And Buy One.  The question “what would Jesus do” if he had the chance to have weapons or jettison them is easily answered.  Jesus advocated weapons.

But it was in this context that a church in Georgia went to court to request legal relief from Georgia’s law that forbids the carrying of weapons in places of worship.  About one and a half years ago:

A gun rights group filed a notice Wednesday that it will appeal a federal judge’s dismissal of a suit challenging a state law banning weapons in churches, mosques and synagogues.

John Monroe, the attorney for GeorgiaCarry.org, filed a notice that he plans to ask the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal’s decision. Royal ruled Monday that a 2010 law that lists places of worship among locations where guns are not allowed did not violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion or the Second Amendment guarantee of a right to bear arms.

The lawsuit — brought by GeorgiaCarry.org, the organization’s past president and  the minister at the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston — challenged the inclusion of places of worship on a list of places where guns are not allowed –  government buildings, courthouses, jails and prisons, state mental hospitals, nuclear power plants, bars without the owner’s permission and polling places.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has made their decision.

A federal appeals court has upheld Georgia’s law banning guns in churches and other places of worship.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, published Friday, upholds a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the law. The lawsuit was filed by a gun rights organization — GeorgiaCarry.org — and the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston. Wilkins had said he wanted to have a gun for protection while working in the church office.

The 11th Circuit rejected arguments that Georgia’s ban violates the plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion and Second Amendment right to bear arms.

John Monroe, a lawyer for Georgia Carry, said Monday the plaintiffs hadn’t decided whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’re looking at it,” Monroe said of the 11th Circuit decision. “We respect the court’s decision, but we were disappointed.”

[ ... ]

“We conclude that the Second Amendment does not give an individual a right to carry a firearm on a place of worship’s premises against the owner’s wishes because such right did not pre-exist the Amendment’s adoption,” the opinion says. “Enforcing the Carry Law against a license holder who carries a firearm on private property against the owner’s instructions would therefore be constitutional.”

This last part is very important, because the news report has, in my opinion, hit the core of the court’s argument.  It says:

A place of worship’s right, rooted in the common law, to forbid possession of firearms on its property is entirely consistent with the Second Amendment.  Surely, given the Court’s pronouncement that the Second Amendment merely “codified a pre-existing right,” Plaintiffs cannot contend that the Second Amendment in any way abrogated the well established property law, tort law, and criminal law that embodies a private property owner’s exclusive right to be king of his own castle. By codifying a pre-existing right, the Second Amendment did not expand, extend, or enlarge the individual right to bear arms at the expense of other fundamental rights; rather, the Second Amendment merely preserved the status quo of the right that existed at the time.42 Indeed, numerous colonial leaders, as well as scholars whose work influenced the Founding Fathers, embraced the concept that a man’s (or woman’s) right to control his (or her) own private property occupied a special role in American society and in our freedom.

Regardless of one’s views on weapons on private property, this might be a compelling argument if it had anything to do with the case.  This isn’t a case about concealed carry permit holders wishing to carry their weapons when the church authorities had a policy against such actions.

The original complaint states that “The Tabernacle would like to have members armed for the protection of its members attending worship services and other events at the Tabernacle’s place of worship, but is in fear of arrest and prosecution of such members under the Carry Ban for doing so.”

In fact, the church is a plaintiff in the complaint.  So in addressing (under the rubric of the second amendment) the issue of whether weapons may be carried on private property where there is a policy against it, the court has erected and knocked down a straw man.  Instead they could have granted the plaintiff’s petition and still left intact the prohibition for private property when the owner’s policy went contrary to the plaintiff’s desire.  They avoided the core issue in their cowardly ruling – they cut and ran when faced with people who wish exercise their constitutional rights.  Typical American workers can’t get away with such foolishness in the work place and still retain a job.




You are currently reading "Jesus, Guns and Georgia", entry #8827 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns,Second Amendment and was published July 24th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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