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BATON ROUGE, La. (RNS) The Louisiana House approved and sent to Gov.
Bobby Jindal on Thursday (June 17) a revived bill that would allow people qualified to carry concealed weapons to tote them to their house of worship.
Lawmakers voted 64-26 for a bill that would give church, mosque or synagogue leaders the authority to allow the practice as part of a volunteer security force. Its primary sponsor, state Rep. Henry Burns, said the bill is voluntary and not mandatory.
Burns’ original bill was killed in the state Senate two weeks ago, but senators reinstated it as an amendment to a separate House gun-rights bill. Jindal can veto the bill, sign it into law or let it become law without acting on it. If it becomes law, it will go into effect Aug. 15.
State Rep. Barbara Norton tried to derail the bill and asked that a vote be delayed, but the House rejected that move, 63-19.
“Unstrap your guns when you go to church,” she said. “It is about the business of the Lord, not about the business of guns.”
Burns said the revamped bill mirrored his original that had earlier passed the House. If the weapons are allowed, he said, the leaders of the congregations would have to tell worshipers of the plan verbally or through a newsletter or bulletin.
Burns’ bill prohibits carrying concealed weapons into religious institutions located on school grounds, and also requires those who are allowed to carry the weapons to receive at least eight hours a year in tactical training, hold a concealed weapons permit and pass background checks.
“They can carry guns into churches now, but they have to be on their sides” and visible, not concealed, Burns said.
Norton said passage of the bill could lead to gang leaders entering a church and opening fire on innocent worshippers.
— Ed Anderson / The Times-Picayune
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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