Georgia’s Episcopal bishops sign statement opposing Republican ‘guns in church’ bill
The highest officials in Georgia’s Episcopal Diocese signed a letter on Tuesday urging the state legislature to abandon its push to allow guns in churches.
The letter appeared on EpiscopalAtlanta.org after the Republican-led state House passed HB 875, which would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons in churches, bars and schools. The state Senate version of the bill is expected to go before the legislature on Wednesday. If it passes, it will go straight to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal (R) to be signed into law.
“Supporters of this bill claim our current quite expansive gun laws are not expansive enough,” wrote Revs. Robert C. Wright and Scott Anson Benhase. “They claim that if only the ‘bad guys’ have guns, then the ‘good guys’ cannot stop them. As one State Representative who sponsored the bill said: ‘Gun free zones that are created by well-meaning laws are gun-free to the good guys only. The bad part of our society does not care.'”
“Our Christian Faith has a more complex understanding of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys,’” said the clergymen. “People who had no criminal record and had a legal right to their weapons have perpetrated almost all of the recent tragic shootings in houses of worship and schools. They were ‘good guys’ until they weren’t.”
“This bill solves nothing and it only creates the potential for more gun violence, not less, to say nothing of increasing political polarization in Georgia,” said the letter. “Please join us in praying for our elected representatives and all those who hold the public trust that they would act wisely on behalf of all Georgians.”
The original version of the gun bill included the right to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, but Republican legislators dropped the language when they realized the University System of Georgia would kill the bill rather than allow that to happen.
“They are a fourth branch of government,” said bill author state Rep. Alan Powell (R). “They carry an enormous amount of influence.”
The Georgia Federation of Teachers released a statement opposing the bill on Tuesday that read, in part, “Our public schools should be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses. Arming educators and bringing more guns into our schools will make schools less safe. It is irresponsible and dangerous and is not a serious solution to the devastatingly serious problem of gun violence in America.”
[image of priest in liturgical robes via Shutterstock.com]