Q & A: Pastoral Policy Related to Weapons

Q. How does House Bill 60, the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, affect churches?

A. Weapons are not allowed in places of worship unless permitted by the religious leader. Our Catholic churches are private property and our bishops have decided not to permit weapons to be carried in Catholic churches in Georgia.

Q. What constitutes a “weapon” under the Policy?

A. Under the Policy, weapons include any handgun, long gun or knife with a blade longer than 5 inches. However, the list of weapons that are precluded by Georgia law from being brought into schools includes a number of other weapons.

Q. When does the Archdiocese of Atlanta/Diocese of Savannah Pastoral Policy go into effect?

A. This policy will go into effect when House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, takes effect on July 1, 2014.

Q. What is the penalty for not respecting the Catholic Church’s prohibition and carrying a weapon into a church or a school?

A. Under Georgia law, a range of criminal penalties can be brought against a person unlawfully bringing a weapon on church or school property. In addition, employees that violate the Policy are subject to a range of disciplinary actions.

Q. Our school offers a riflery class. Is this permitted under the Pastoral Policy?

A. The prohibition of weapons does not apply to weapons used as part of authorized and supervised school activities, such as rifles for marching bands or rifle range training.

Q. If a parishioner or parent has a permit to carry a weapon, could he leave it in his car in the parish parking lot while attending church services or picking her child up at school?

A. This policy does not prohibit licensed individuals from securing weapons in motor vehicles in the limited circumstances permitted by the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014.

Q. If a priest owns a weapon for personal protection or sporting purposes, would he be allowed to keep it at his residence on church property?

A. This policy does not prohibit clergy from lawfully possessing weapons and securely maintaining them in residential space owned or leased by the Archdiocese or the Diocese.

Q. Should my parish post a sign stating that weapons are not allowed?

A. Posting signs is not recommended. The Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 is an opt-in measure, so the law precludes weapons in places of worship unless permitted by the governing body of the church.

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