Carrying in Places of Worship
Georgia law forbids possession of firearms in certain locations. The statute we will be addressing is Official Code of Georgia 16-11-127. One of the locations where carry is prohibited is in a place of worship, meaning you cannot carry there to protect yourself, your family, or anyone else unless the governing authority or the governing body of the place of worship permits the carry of weapons or long guns by license holders. This permission may be given orally or in writing, but permission may not be given selectively. If any one individual is granted the right to carry in the place of worship, all may exercise that right.
It is important to know you must be given permission before carrying a firearm in a place a worship. If your house of worship does not explicitly or expressly say yes, then you may not carry a firearm. License holders who choose to carry without permission into their place of worship may not be arrested if they are found in possession of a firearm on church property and may be fined $100 for the offense arising from their unlawful carry. They may, however, still be subject to a revocation of their Weapons Carry License.
Punishments for Carrying in a Place of Worship
A non-license holder found in possession of a firearm at a place of worship without permission is subject to arrest and will be punished by misdemeanor if convicted.
Firearms carry in a place of worship has special sentencing provisions for Weapons Carry License holders versus those who carry without a license, which is yet another example of the importance of obtaining a Weapons Carry License in Georgia.
There is a significant unintended consequence as well, the probate court that issued the offender’s Weapons Carry License can and will revoke his or her Weapons Carry License for a period of five years. If you’re found guilty, even though as a Weapons Carry License holder you cannot be arrested, you may lose your Weapons Carry License.
Carrying a firearm in a place of worship is legal for Weapons Carry License holders only when the place of worship has given express permission to carry. Otherwise, it is still a violation of the law.
For any questions about laws and regulations concerning the protection of religious organizations in Georgia, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney today.
Very good analysis. One question I have is I was given permission to carry in my church near Atlanta by the Pastor. He has since retired. Would I need to renew permission from the new pastor to be legal?
I am going to ask my pastor this Sunday how did your pastor respond
So my church has a volunteer security team. They are just church members that have been selected to be part of this team. Some of them do carry a concealed firearm. Since the church cannot give this permission selectively, does this mean anyone can carry in their church?
Joe, this is a great question for one of our independent program attorneys. If you’re a member, please call our non-emergency line during business hours for an answer to this question.