Supreme Court declines to hear Thomaston minister’s gun appeal

pramati@macon.comJanuary 7, 2013 

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal to overturn a Georgia law that bans firearms in places of worship.

GeorgiaCarry.org filed the appeal after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court in Macon’s dismissal of a suit brought by the organization and the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston. The Supreme Court didn’t comment Monday on why it would not hear the case.

GeorgiaCarry.org’s appeal was filed in October. The organization contended the ban applying specifically to places of worship burdens “religiously motivated conduct by regulating how or what a worshipper can do with a weapon while he is worshipping.”

Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.org, said his organization was surprised by the court’s decision.

“If we were expecting they would dismiss it, we wouldn’t have filed it,” he said. “We are disappointed we didn’t get a hearing.”

Henry said despite the setback through the courts, his organization is working on changing the law during the current session of the General Assembly, which begins Monday.

“We’ll fight through the General Assembly to let churches make the decisions” about whether their members can carry guns, Henry said. “We’ll approach the state as we do every year. ... We want churches to be like every private property owner in Georgia. Churches are the only ones who can’t make that decision.”

According to the organization’s website, Georgia, along with North Dakota, Illinois, Mississippi, Arkansas and Hawaii, have such anti-gun legislation in place. South Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan and Nebraska are among the states that have limitations in place about carrying a weapon into a house of worship.

Attempts to reach Wilkins and attorney John Monroe on Monday were unsuccessful.

Henry said Monday’s decision won’t be a major setback to his organization’s goals.

“We’re going to continue to fight for our rights and everybody else’s rights when it comes to the First and Second Amendment,” he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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