Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.Org Inc., said HB 60 benefits smaller churches, who may not be able to afford security personnel. He said the law has more to do with property rights than the Second Amendment.
“A church is private property, and the state has no right telling them what they can and cannot do,” he said. “If the church wants to allow it, then the church should be able to allow it.”
Ministers, pastors and rabbis across north Fulton differ in their response to the law.
Prior to HB 60, Lane Alderman said the Roswell Presbyterian Church had a building use policy prohibiting alcohol and tobacco. In the wake of the new law, he said weapons have recently been added to the list.
“We’re a large church, and I think, generally, most folks seem to want to come to worship in a gun-free zone,” he said.
The Rev. Daniel Stack, pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Alpharetta, said his congregation will adhere to a common decree issued by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah. The decree bars parishioners from bringing firearms into any church or facility owned, leased or operated by the Archdiocese or Diocese.
“I’ve never really felt the need to carry a weapon,” Stack said.
Journey Christian Church leader the Rev. Dan Garrett said his Roswell congregation has yet to decide whether worshippers will be allowed to carry weapons.
“It really has not come up at our official board meetings,” he said. “Honestly, it’s not been on our radar.”
Garrett, however, said he does not consider the law a state imposition on his church. “We still have the freedom to restrict entrance,” he said.
Rabbi Fred Greene of Roswell’s Temple Beth Tikvah said he supported gun control efforts. His congregation has elected to keep the temple a weapons-free zone.
“I don’t think it is responsible and I have great concerns over how others will interpret it or misinterpret it,” he said.
Tareef Saeb, chairman of Hamzah Islamic Center, said his Alpharetta masjid hasn’t been impacted at all by the law.
“We don’t believe in carrying guns into the Islamic Center, so we have not made the change in our policies,” he said.
Permitted individuals who bring guns into houses of worship with bans in place face a $100 maximum fine.
Those without permits would be charged with a misdemeanor and possibly face penalties up to a $1,000 fine or a year in jail.