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Group wants right to carry guns to church

  |   Oct. 6, 2011 at 3:08 PM
ATLANTA, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court heard arguments Thursday on a Georgia gun rights group's bid to overturn a ban on firearms in places of worship.

GeorgiaCarry.org said the law violates the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion by setting rules for churches and other religious facilities, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. A lawyer for the state argued the year-old law does not include a flat ban on firearms in churches because it says only that weapons must be "secure."

"Secure could mean keep it in a holster, keep it in your pocket," Assistant Attorney General Laura Lones told the judges.

The law allows Georgia residents to carry concealed weapons in most places. Schools and colleges, government buildings and places of worship are exceptions, while bar owners have the option to ban firearms.

One of the three judges on the panel, Ed Carnes, suggested Lones was misreading the law: "That's not what the plain language says."

GeorgiaCarry.org is trying to eliminate many of the exceptions in the law and says it will next fight for the right to carry on college campuses and in government buildings.

The court did not rule Thursday.

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