Should we start taking our guns with us to church?
The Family Research Council and the Liberty Institute cite 600 recent hostile attacks on people of faith. A black news service asks if worshipers need to arm themselves. And Wisconsin Sikhs mourn their dead.
So, is it time to start taking firearms to church? In April 2011, Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli ruled that carrying a firearm for self-protection in a church or place of worship is permissible under Virginia law. He was responding to a state legislator’s request to explain a state law which bars firearms in places of worship “without good and sufficient reason” Cuccinelli ruled that “carrying a weapon for personal protection constitutes a good and sufficient reason.”
“Guns are allowed in churches in twenty states as part of their ‘Right to Carry’ laws,” writes Susannah Griffee for the New Yorker magazine. “Versions of them have been enacted in more than forty states.
“In the 1920s and 1930s, many states adopted laws that prohibited the unlicensed concealed carrying of a gun. Vermont is the only state that did not adopt any statutes prohibiting or regulating the concealed carry of guns, and has no specific prohibition against carrying guns in churches.”
In Thomaston, Georgia, the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins told Adelle M. Banks, reporting in USA Today, that his congregation should have the right to carry guns into worship services to protect the congregation.
“Wilkins’ Baptist Tabernacle and a Georgia gun-rights association are challenging a new state law that prohibits weapons in houses of worship,” she noted. “Recently, state legislatures in Georgia, Michigan and Louisiana have been caught in the crossfire of the debate between gun rights and gun control as they consider allowing weapons in houses of worship.
“Though gun-rights proponents think they have both the First and Second Amendments on their side, they also cite the rights of religious organizations as property owners. Opponents, meanwhile, worry that having weapons in worship is part of a slippery slope to permitting them everywhere.
Shortly after Georgia specifically banned guns in church, Louisiana
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a law permitting them in churches, mosques and synagogues.