It can’t possibly top Mark’s Pussy Riot post, but here’s an unusual case out of the Eleventh Circuit. In 2010, the state of Georgia passed a statute prohibiting the carrying of weapons or “long guns” in certain public venues. One of these eight designated locations in this Carry Law was a “place of worship.” Two individual plaintiffs claim that they “regularly attend religious services, possess a weapons carry license, and ‘would like to carry a handgun’ while in a place of worship.” The complaint alleges violations of the Free Exercise Clause and the Second Amendment.
The Eleventh Circuit tossed the case. “The Supreme Court has reiterated time and time again that personal preferences and secular beliefs do not warrant the protection of the Free Exercise Clause,” it said. The Court held that it had searched the complaint for any allegation that the Carry Law violated a sincerely held religious belief of the plaintiffs, but to no avail. “That Plaintiffs ‘would like’ to carry a firearm in order to be able to act in ‘self-defense’ is a personal preference, motivated by a secular purpose . . . . [T]here is no First Amendment protection for personal preferences; nor is there protection for secular beliefs.”
The Second Amendment claim was also dismissed. The case is Georgiacarry.org, Inc. v. Georgia, 2012 WL 2947817 (11th Cir. July 20, 2012).