Mississippi Senate passes bill to allow armed guards in churches
A Mississippi proposal to make it easier for people to carry guns in churches is moving through the state legislature.
Dubbed “The Church Protection Act,” the bill allows houses of worship to designate members as security guards, who could obtain permits to carry concealed weapons to protect congregants from attacks. Those security guards would be immune from lawsuits stemming from responding to a threat. They could also use their work in defense of the church as a defense against criminal charges.
The bill’s supporters said the measure could help prevent an attack similar to the June 2015 massacre in a Charleston, South Carolina, church that left nine members dead.
One opponent of the bill, State Sen. Hillman Frazier, pulled out a sword during a debate in the Mississippi Capitol on Tuesday, citing a biblical story about a disciple cutting off a servant’s ear.
Mississippi is home to 363 Churches of Christ with 41,126 adherents, according to the 2015 edition of a national directory published by Nashville, Tenn.-based 21st Century Christian.
The Christian Chronicle reported last year on “God, guns and keeping Christians safe”:
At many Churches of Christ across the nation, Christians bring more than their swords — as some refer to their Bibles — to Sunday worship.
An untold number also carry concealed handguns into the assembly, church leaders told The Christian Chronicle.
As mass shootings make all-too-frequent headlines in America, some see pistol-packing church members — and even preachers — as protection, the Chronicle found in interviews with dozens of ministers, elders and deacons in 15 states.
“I do not believe that Jesus — or even the old law — taught members to cower in the face of danger,” said Chris Gallagher, minister for the Gadsden Church of Christ in Alabama. “It was Jesus who told his apostles to take a sword in Luke 22.
“A gunman coming into our services to cause harm to men, women and children through his evil desires should be stopped,” added Gallagher, noting that he usually locks his own Ruger .380 pistol in his office when he preaches. “Shall we let the evil of one man injure and harm a collection of God’s people?”