Supreme Court declines to hear Ga. gun ban

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Combined News Services

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court won't overturn a Georgia law banning firearms in churches and other places of worship.

On Monday, the high court refused to hear an appeal from GeorgiaCarry.org, which wanted the justices to overturn a lower court decision upholding Georgia's law banning guns in churches and other places of worship.

GeorgiaCarry.org argued that the ban applying specifically to places of worship burdens "religiously motivated conduct by regulating how or what a worshipper can do with a weapon while he is worshipping."

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But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit brought by GeorgiaCarry and the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston, Ga. The Supreme Court, without comment, refused to reconsider that ruling.

In a related development, more than 300 college presidents have signed a letter urging Congress to enact new gun controls in the aftermath of December's elementary school massacre in Connecticut.

"For many years now, our nation's leaders have engaged in fevered debates on higher education, yet lawmakers shy away from taking action on one issue that prevents thousands of young people from living lives of promise, let alone realizing their college dreams," the presidents wrote in the letter, which was organized by leaders of Oglethorpe University and Agnes Scott College in Georgia. "That issue is gun safety."

Among the goals in the letter: a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines; consumer-safety standards for guns, such as safety locks; and background checks for those who buy firearms from unlicensed sellers at gun shows.

Kenneth Ruscio, president of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., who signed the letter, acknowledged that it was risky to take a stand on such a polarizing question. "But I was moved, as many of the other signers were" by the Sandy Hook tragedy, he said.

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