Bans popping up as 'guns everywhere' law goes into effect - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Bans popping up as 'guns everywhere' law goes into effect

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Critics may call it the "guns everywhere" law, but there are plenty of places firearms won't be carried in the Coastal Empire.

Implemented Tuesday, a new Georgia law allows gun owners with weapons carry permits to bring their firearms into municipal buildings, bars and churches, with exceptions.

Those exceptions are being relied on by bar owners, church leaders and city officials across the Coastal Empire.

Signs popped up Tuesday across Chatham County -- banning no carrying in Savannah's city hall, in the iconic Drayton Street bar Pinkie Master's and in Savannah's churches.

City of Savannah spokesman Bret Bell said the mayor and city council have decided, "guns really have no place in our public buildings."

That's why the city has installed metal detectors, X-ray machines and turnstiles at City Hall. The metal detectors and X-ray machines aren't powered on yet but are expected to be activated by the end of summer.

Bell said city officials are interpreting the law as allowing municipalities to ban weapons in their buildings so long as there is a security checkpoint at the door.

The new law also gives bar right to turn away armed patrons.

Veteran bar owner Billy Lee, who runs Savannah's McDonough's and Billy's Place, said he isn't planning on posting a sign. But patrons who come in strapped will be asked to leave.

"I don't think guns and alcohol mix," Lee said.

Churches across the Coastal Empire also banning guns, as is their right under the law.

The president of a coalition of historically African-American churches says he's posting a sign outside his church, asking worshipers to leave their guns at home.

"We believe that it should be sacred when you come to the house of the Lord," said Rev. George Moore, who pastors St. Phillip Monumental AME Church and also serves as president of the Savannah Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Chatham's smaller cities are banning guns, too, relying on a legal opinion from the Georgia Municipal Association that says if city halls also house municipal court, as they do in most Georgia small towns, officials won't have to put metal detectors or armed guards at the door to implement a gun ban.

Moore wants that same protection extended to churches.

"I believe in the law," he said. "I think we ought to follow the law. But I think this is one law that we should make a statement, that we don't believe that we should have guns in the church."

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