Approval of Georgia House bill could allow guns in church - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Approval of Georgia House bill could allow guns in church

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

In the final hours of Georgia's 2014 legislative session, state leaders approved House Bill 60 by a 112 to 58 vote. This legalizes silencers for hunting, and allows guns to be carried to church.

Some clergy in the Fountain City say this idea is misplaced.

"Guns should not be needed in a sanctuary," explains Reverend Chuck Hasty with First Presbyterian Church of Columbus. "I understand we live in a fallen world, and bad things happen, but the sanctuary is a holy place. It's a safe place. It's a set apart place for worship."

Gun advocates disagree.

"If a person is legally licensed to carry a firearm everywhere else in Georgia, you are legally licensed to do that except publicly-owned buildings," says John McMullen, owner of Shooters of Columbus.  "A church is not a publicly owned building. So it's really the church's right."

The Bill gives church leaders the right to choose whether or not to allow guns into the sanctuary during worship. Even with this measure, people in Columbus say the new law raises safety concerns for them.

"That scares me," says Columbus resident Christina Thompson, "Because I'm a religious person, and I attend church pretty much every Sunday. So, to know that now we're allowed to bring guns to church, you don't know what people are going through."

Guns advocates call the argument invalid.

"Whenever you tell a law-abiding citizen they can't have or do something, it will never stop a criminal from committing a crime," adds Columbus resident Lance Miller.

Still, the Bill is waiting on Governor Nathan Deal's desk, reducing the carrying of guns to a church-by-church basis across the state. According to the proposal, those caught carrying a gun in a church that does not endorse the legislation will be subject to a misdemeanor and a $100 fine.

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