While Maryland doesn’t quite have the reputation of New Jersey, California, New York, or Massachusetts, that doesn’t mean it’s close to a Georgia, Arizona, or Texas when it comes to guns. They don’t like ’em, and they’ve made that pretty clear.
However, it looks like the gun debate may soon be heating up in the state legislature as a new bill seeks to arm church parishioners.
People attending services in a house of worship in Maryland will have the option to carry a firearm for self defense, should bills sponsored by two Harford County legislators pass in Annapolis next year.
The legislation, which was announced Tuesday during a press conference at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Southern Precinct in Edgewood, is called the Parishioner Protection Act of 2018.
“Can you think of anything more egregious than being in the house of the Lord and someone coming in with ill intent?” asked Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, who said he asked local legislators to pursue a legislative fix in Annapolis.
He said his agency has fielded inquiries from people in the local faith community about how to protect themselves if a shooting happens in their house of worship.
Gahler cited the massacre of 26 parishioners in a Texas church in early November, as well as the killing of parishioners and clergy in a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 and other incidents in recent years, including a pipe bomb attack in New York City Monday morning, the death of three employees in a mass shooting at Advanced Granite Solutions in Edgewood in October and the murder of two Sheriff’s Office deputies in Abingdon in 2016.
“We’ve seen the attacks far too frequently in our country, and the leaders standing behind me are here to push for change in Maryland, change that will allow our houses of worship to be protected,” Erik Robey, director of legislative and community affairs for the Sheriff’s Office, said.
Now, this isn’t quite as simple as a state giving a green light for concealed carry in churches. In fact, it doesn’t require the individuals to have a concealed carry permit at all.
However, it requires written permission from the pastor to carry, and it doesn’t extend anywhere else beyond the church property. One example used is that it doesn’t allow the same person to carry a church lunch at a restaurant.
Frankly, it’s kind of a silly bill if you ask me since churches shouldn’t have to have a law telling them what they can and can’t do on their property, but then again, it’s Maryland.
Overall, this is a positive step forward, though. It’s a case of at least some lawmakers recognizing that churches are vulnerable and that the maniacs who would try to pull off the next Sutherland Springs won’t give a damn about Maryland’s anti-gun laws. They’ll slaughter as many people as they can simply because there’s no one to stop them…
…unless there is.
An armed parishioner, whether acting as part of a formal security force or not, can be the deciding factor in a moment like that. Good on these lawmakers for considering that. Too bad that I just don’t believe it’ll happen.