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Schools, churches address new gun law

POSTED: June 25, 2014 1:00 p.m.

The Barrow County School District and local churches are crafting policies in response to the new gun law.

The new law that goes into effect July 1 would allow churches to opt in to allow firearms on their property, while the law would permit some school employees to be designated to have access to firearms. The head of the school system said they will remain status quo for now, while at least one area church will allow members to carry firearms.

For the Barrow County School District there are no plans to change policies prohibiting guns on property and school safety zones, Superintendent Chris McMichael said in an email.

Currently firearms can only be carried in schools by School Resource Officers.

"We will be briefing our principals and administration teams at the school levels before school starts regarding how to deal with any potential situations that may arise due to confusion surrounding the new laws,"
McMichael said.

The Church @ War Hill, which has a Winder campus, will let people apply to carry firearms. A statement from the church says that they want to continue to support the constitutional rights of its members.

"The Church @ War Hill campuses staff professional security personnel who are thoroughly trained and equipped for any and all safety measures that may arise," the statement said. "Individuals who wish to apply through our security screening process may receive express permission to carry in our facilities if it is deemed the individual has passed the high expectations of our security process."

Leaders at First Baptist Church of Winder have decided not to have any changes to their policy that allows officers to have firearms at the church. Last year their staff went before state legislators to discuss the potential of a new gun law.

"If they bring (a firearm) on the premises they have to keep it in the car," said Irby Stanley, minister of administration and adult education. "The new law didn’t impact us because we already addressed we didn’t feel comfortable with people bringing firearms into our facility."

Statham First Baptist Church is in the process of putting together a security team with the help of the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office.

The church has some members that are law enforcement officers and they will be allowed to carry a firearm.

"We’re not trying to use it as a scare tactic but trying to get people in place for security purposes," Pastor Mike Vernatt said about the security team.

The security team will help keep an eye on the campus, but also provide another service.

"Our security will be more there to greet people and help people, but also be there for surveillance during our services," Vernatt said.



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