Churches can still ban weapons after Georgia's open carry gun law goes into effect this week


The Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act went into effect on Tuesday, but legislators allowed certain institutions to continue to restrict weapons in their buildings.

Bars, churches, government buildings, and schools are now the only Georgia establishments that can legally stop someone with a Georgia Weapons Carry Permit from bringing a gun into their facilities. But, the decision is optional.

Faith Worship Center International pastor Norman Hardman is one of the church leaders that opted to ban the weapons.

"I think that if we let people go loosely, we'll have a vigilante spirit," he told WTVM. "So now we have to control what's in our churches. I'm glad that at this point, we can put up a sign that says, 'You can't bring this in here.'"

The Muscogee County City Services Building is requiring all persons to enter through a back entrance so that they can be processed by security.

Georgia governor Nathan Deal signed the Safe Carry Protection Act into law on April 23. The National Rifle Association called it the "most comprehensive" gun law in the state's history, and Americans for Responsible Solutions Senior Advisor Pia Carusone called the law dangerous and irresponsible.

"Among its many extreme provisions, it allows guns in TSA lines at the country's busiest airport, forces community school boards into bitter, divisive debates about whether they should allow guns in their children's classrooms, and broadens the conceal carry eligibility to people who have previously committed crimes with guns," she told CNN.

She also stated that Georgia law enforcement agencies, local politicians, and the Transportation Security Administration find the law "potentially harmful" to citizens.

Governor Deal said that the legislation actually protects citizens.

"License holders have passed background checks and are in good standing with the law," he said at a public picnic.

"This law gives added protections to those who have played by the rules-- and who can protect themselves and others from those who don't play by the rules."

The Governor added that about half a million Georgians have a concealed carry permit, or five percent of the State's population.