When lawmakers first started passing laws allowing carrying guns in churches, it was with the intent that people could meet the threat of a mass shooter entering their houses of worship. For many states, this happened right after Sutherland Springs. A mass shooter entered a church and slaughtered the unarmed congregation. It wasn’t stopped until an armed citizen across the street engaged the killer. A lot of lawmakers didn’t want that to happen in their states.
Unfortunately, a quirk of the law excluded churches that had schools attached, which is a surprising number of them.
Now, in North Carolina, legislators are addressing that.
The North Carolina General Assembly on Tuesday finalized another bill seeking to expand gun rights — this time in churches — and will send it to Gov. Roy Cooper, who vetoed a bill containing the same idea a year ago.
The Senate agreed 30-19 to House changes to Republican legislation that would allow members or visitors at churches that meet on private school campuses to carry a handgun if they have a concealed weapons permit.
Current law treats these places of worship differently than standalone religious venues, and bill supporters say these worshippers should have access to the same level of security when churches have been targets for violence. Ministers of several evangelical churches with affiliated schools spoke in committee earlier this year to request the option.
While a few Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for a broader gun bill in 2020 that contain the church language, Cooper managed to return enough Democrats to the fold last year to uphold his veto.
The governor focused on the church provision in the 2020 measure, saying it threatened the safety of students and teachers.
Which is nonsense. First, because gun control doesn’t protect teachers or students, though I have no doubt Cooper would reject that argument.
The second reason, though, is because the bill doesn’t apply to times when school is in session. See, church and school tend not to happen at the same time. When school is in session the property is treated like a school. When it’s not, it’s treated like a church. Even if you think gun control protects students, how can you justify that applying when there aren’t any students to protect?
Instead, Cooper’s resistance has less to do with student safety and more to do with the typical Democrat knee-jerk reaction to anything remotely pro-gun.
I don’t know what will happen when the bill reaches Cooper’s desk. This bill isn’t exactly like the bill from 2020, so he may sign. Then again, he may veto, in which case he manages to put congregations with schools at risk.
After all, if you’re a future mass shooter in North Carolina looking for a congregation to kill, all you have to do is look for one with a school attached. Cooper’s refusal to sign the 2020 bill put lives at risk and he may well do it again this year.
He needs to sign the bill and let North Carolinians attend church safe in the knowledge that they can defend themselves should someone try to make a name for themselves killing innocent people there.