The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 60 which made changes to Georgia’s firearms carry laws. For the most part, my opinion is that this a good piece of legislation in that it clarifies some ambiguities, and more importantly, it clearly codifies into law what the courts have already ruled: there is no firearms exception to the Fourth Amendment and the mere presence of a firearm alone is not sufficient reason to detain a citizen.
Unfortunately, there is one portion of the bill that will prove to be problematic. Currently, all places of worship are “off limits” for Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL) holders. Under HB60, the governing bodies of places of worship may take the affirmative step to allow firearms carry on their premisses and at their services. Unless this affirmative step is taken by a respective place of worship, it will remain an off limits location.
Rather than take the position that places of worship are private property and treating them just as any other private property in the state, the legislature has created tool of division that is going to ripple through congregations throughout the state. Some congregants will be mad because the governing body of their particular place of worship chose not to allow firearms carry. Likewise, some congregants will be mad because the governing body of their particular place of worship took the opposite approach.
Furthermore, suppose the congregants and governance of an individual church desire to allow carry; however, the church is part of a denomination and the powers that be for the denomination go the other way and impose said ruling upon all member churches. The individual church breaking away from the denomination is not a simple matter as that might seem. In some denominations, the congregation does not own the title to the church building, the denomination does. This could lead to court battles over control of church property.
I am not normally a “the sky is falling” type person, but I simply foresee a lot of consternation and strife coming from this. Stand by for the law of unintended consequences.