We all remember the absolute horror as we received news of Sutherland Springs last year. It was awful, and so many of us wondered just how this could happen in Texas. However, no one had a gun on them in the church, and thus the massacre could go on uncontested. That is until the shooter stepped outside the church and faced an armed neighbor.
Unfortunately, it was too late then.
However, many states have sought to do what they could to prevent a repeat of that event. They’ve done whatever they can to beef up church security legislatively.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards last week approved legislation to allow more people to carry a concealed handgun in places of worship across the state.
The proposal, SB 402, changes state regulations on security guards in places like churches and synagogues while dropping the current eight-hour annual training requirement for approved concealed handgun permittees to carry firearms while attending services. The bill was popular with lawmakers, passing the House 81-10 and the Senate 34-3, veto-proof margins that all but ensured a signature from the Democrat Edwards — who approved the bill without comment.
The new law makes it possible for volunteers who are law enforcement or have a valid concealed handgun permit to serve houses of worship as armed security, either in a paid or unpaid capacity. Prior law did not allow concealed carry unless the permit holder had eight hours of tactical training each year, a requirement the modification signed this month leaves behind except in cases where it is required by the church’s insurance underwriter. Neighboring Mississippi adopted a similar law granting allowances for concealed carry by members of designated church programs in 2016.
These are all good steps, but they often tend not to go far enough.
Here in the South, especially, the church is kind of a weird place. While we tend to embrace both religion and guns (some have said we even “cling” to them), there are a lot of people who separate the two and would never carry in a church. A church is a sacred place where you would never soil by carrying. Many state laws have reflected this. It was only fairly recently that Georgia allowed the carrying of guns in churches at all, and then only with the permission of the church.
And this is a part of the country that tends to buy into the whole “cold, dead hands” line of thinking.
Despite being a lifelong Southerner, I’ve never understood it.
Yet there’s one hurdle that needs to be dealt with following Sutherland Springs. If you believe that more guns mean less crime, and that good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns, one must recognize that the church door isn’t proof against evil. Maniacs don’t respect houses of worship and never will.
That means you need guns there.
Luckily, many states are grasping that and making changes. However, there are still hurdles to be addressed, but hopefully, they will be. In Louisiana, they made it easier, and that’s always a good thing.