In April, Tom Knighton reported on proposed bills which would expand Florida’s carry laws. On June 29, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a package of 94 bills into law. Among the bills, CS/CS/HB 259 – Safety of Religious Institutions, also known as a “church carry” bill, was included. What does HB 259 do? From the bill text:
Notwithstanding any other law, for the purposes of safety, security, personal protection, or any other lawful purpose, a person licensed under this section may carry a concealed weapon or firearm on property owned, rented, leased, borrowed, or lawfully used by a church, synagogue, or other religious institution. This subsection does not limit the private property rights of a church, synagogue, or other religious institution to exercise control over property that the church, synagogue, or other religious institution owns, rents, leases, borrows, or lawfully uses.
Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.
Increasingly more policy makers are coming to the same conclusion that the civil rights minded population already has; gun free zones are soft targets. By removing any restrictions on parishioners from being able to exercise their Second Amendment right along side their First Amendment right, not only sends a clear message to those that may want to engage in a terroristic act, but armed persons have stopped said shootings when they were unfolding.
As a whole, gun free zones don’t make much sense at all. People are either intent on inflicting harm or they are not. Stopping those that wish to exercise their right from doing so because they are law abiding does nothing to add to the public safety of said property or place. At this juncture, the criminal element has more rights than the peaceful citizen, as the criminal grants themselves the ability to do whatever they want. The only way to make gun free zones work is if there was not a single firearm on the planet in existence (a goal progressives would love to achieve). At that point, we’d be discussing knife free zones and the like, which is the case in the UK.
Adversaries of such measures or those measures that explicitly have openly armed security at religious institutes may claim “no one should have to practice their faith while surrounded by guns”. The situation is paradoxical because I’m sure the same people would be thanking God, should a shooting occur, if a patriot like Jack Wilson or Stephen Willeford stepped in to stop a threat to the congregation. Knighton discussed some of this in his piece:
Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer claims, however, that mass shootings have never been stopped by the good guy with a gun. I’m sure that’ll be news to Jack Wilson, a man who stepped up and put an end to what would have been a mass shooting at a church in White Settlement, Texas.
It’s also news to Stephen Williford, who engaged the killer in Sutherland Springs when he exited the building, likely intent on continuing his rampage.
Same for Jeanne Assam who ran toward danger as an armed volunteer security guard for the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and put down an active shooter.
Those are just three names I can pop off right here, right now.
Laws coming into effect such as the Safety of Religious Institutions Act need to be replicated across the country. People should not have to choose between their safety and faith. The evidence is clear and convincing that more lives are saved by firearms than are taken with them. An inconvenient fact the anti freedom caucus tends to ignore.