By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/6/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta promises to restrict the presence of guns in Catholic institutions. Expressing extreme dismay of a new law that would allow guns in churches throughout the state, slated to take effect on July 1, the law was opposed by the Georgia Catholic Conference.
Archbishop Gregory, in his column, said: "Churches and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries - holy sites where people come to pray and to worship God."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The new Georgia law allows licensed gun owners to carry arms into schools, churches and other locales.
The archbishop said he regretted the enactment of the new law "more than I can possibly express," the archbishop wrote of his concerns in the Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper of the Atlanta archdiocese.
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"Before this legislation takes effect in July, I will officially restrict the presence of weapons in our Catholic institutions except for those carried by the people that civic authorities have designated and trained to protect and guard us - and those who are duly authorized law and military officials," he explained.
"The last thing we need is more firearms in public places, especially in those places frequented by children and the vulnerable," Archbishop Gregory wrote.
Licensed gun holders in Georgia were previously not permitted to carry a firearm into a house of worship.
The law continues to prohibit weapons in houses of worship "unless the governing body or authority of the place of worship permits the carrying of weapons or long guns by license holders."
The new law diminishes the penalty for carrying weapons in a house of worship to a $100 fine with no arrest permitted for a licensed gun holder. A person carrying a weapon without a license can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Critics of the broad legislation have denounced it as the "guns everywhere bill." Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the Safe Carry Protection Act on April 23, saying it strengthened the rights of gun ownership as outlined in the US constitution.
In response, Episcopal churches in central and north Georgia also announced a ban to firearms in a directive from Bishop Robert Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The only exception to the policy will be for on-duty law enforcement officers.
Archbishop Gregory, in his column, said: "Churches and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries - holy sites where people come to pray and to worship God.
"In this nation of ours, they have seldom been the locations where violence has disrupted the otherwise peaceful atmosphere. Yet even those occasions - rare as they may be - are not sufficient reasons to allow people to bring more weapons into God's house," he said.
The archbishop said that he did not mean to suggest restricting firearms in "places where they are needed to protect one's home and property or to defend the public by officials who are entrusted with our protection.
"Yet this new legislation de facto makes firearms more available in places where they may allow violence to escalate," Archbishop Gregory said.
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