Courts & Crime

Georgia lawsuit seeks to overturn ban on guns in church

A federal judge has denied a request for an injunction preventing Georgia from enforcing a law prohibiting licensed gun carriers from taking a gun to church.

The Rev. Jonathan Wilkins of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston and Inc. filed a lawsuit in Upson County Superior Court about a month ago arguing that he has a constitutional right to be armed while at church. The case has been moved to federal court in Macon.

Georgia is one of four states that prohibit guns in churches, said John Monroe, the Roswell attorney representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

North Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas also prohibit guns in churches. Several states allow guns in church with permission from the churches, Monroe said.

U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal issued his ruling on the temporary injunction from the bench Monday morning. He cited the complexity of the issues and various legal arguments raised by the lawyers as reasons for denying the motion.

Monroe said the judge's ruling on the injunction isn't an indication of the merits of the case.

"It's not at all discouraging," he said.

Requests for temporary injunctions often are denied, Monroe said.

"It seemed like a case where it was reasonable to request one," he said.

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