The Catholic News Service reported Tuesday that Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory and Savannah Bishop Gregory Hartmayer had issued an order banning guns and knives with blades longer than 5 inches from any churches, schools and other buildings owned or operated by their dioceses. The order was effective July 1, the same day Georgia's expansive gun rights law took effect.
"This decree is rooted in the belief that our churches and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries -- holy sites where people come to pray and to worship God," the bishops said in a statement, as quoted by the Catholic News Service. "In this nation of ours, they have seldom been the locations where violence has disrupted the otherwise peaceful atmosphere."
Anyone who carries a weapon in violation of the dioceses' decree may be charged with trespassing, according to the Catholic News service. The order does allow certain exemptions, including permitting clergy to own and keep a weapon in a rectory.
Georgia's new gun law allows residents to carry firearms into bars, schools, churches and some government buildings. A showdown between two armed men in a convenience store led to an arrest on the very day the law took effect.