ATLANTA — Across Georgia, state and local laws restricting guns are in the cross-hairs, and may soon vanish.
That’s how powerful Thursday’s sweeping U.S. Supreme Court decision - the ruling that affirms the right to carry handguns outside the home - is shaping up to be.
For example, Georgia law still bans bringing guns into certain places - such as a church, unless the church allows it.
“It's still a crime to carry a gun in a place of worship in Georgia,” explained John Monroe of the organization Georgia Second Amendment, GA2A. “I'm not sure that would stand up under today's opinion.”
The City of South Fulton is considering banning guns in parks, after a teen was shot to death in Welcome All Park in April near a Stop the Violence rally there.
Monroe said if the local governments, in Georgia and nationwide, don’t drop their gun restrictions as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, they may end up being sued in federal court.
“I think that’s a real possibility that we’ll see increased litigation,” Monroe said, “not just in other states but also in Georgia, challenging some of the restrictions that are in place. There are quite a few local ordinances that are probably not going to pass constitutional muster. And I know there are some in the works. For example, the City of South Fulton is in the process of passing an ordinance that restricts carrying firearms. I don't think that's going to pass constitutional muster if they do actually pass that ordinance.”
However, gun safety advocates in Georgia believe the Supreme Court ruling will galvanize support to fight for more regulations and restrictions in state law.
“It’s a matter of life and death,” said Sen. Elena Parent, (D) DeKalb County. “That the Supreme Court could disempower elected officials to act on behalf of public safety on this issue is just completely absurd. And I don’t think that the American public is going to stand for it over the long term. I think that people are going to be even more motivated and concerned to continue fighting on this issue.”
Her focus is campaigning for state candidates this fall who pledge, if elected, to overturn the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act and impose new gun restrictions that will not be considered unconstitutional as a result of Thursday's Supreme Court decision. However, Parent said that decision is likely to diminish public safety unless state and local governments respond legislatively.
“I think that it is a very flawed decision legally and historically,” she said. “The Supreme Court is so out of step with not just the views of Americans and Georgians on this issue, but it is, frankly, out of step with reality.”
Those who applaud the ruling believe it is likely to stand unchallenged as long as the current 6-3 conservative majority on the Court remains.
“The big takeaway from today’s Supreme Court opinion,” Monroe said, “is that states and cities are not going to be able to place big restrictions on where and how and whether a person can carry a handgun outside the home.”