Wisconsin Considering Allowing Guns in Some Churches

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

My father, a retired law enforcement officer and a preacher’s kid, never felt right about carrying a gun in church. At least, not until I pointed out how many mass shootings happen in churches, anyway.


And it’s unfortunate that they do. Maybe not as often as some other potential targets, but often enough that people keep tally of which church shootings are the deadliest.

A lot of states do, however, allow people to carry guns in places of worship, yet some have limits. For example, their gun-free school laws create problems there.

It seems that some Wisconsin lawmakers hope to address that.

State senators heard testimony last week on several Republican-backed bills that would expand the rights of people to carry guns and other weapons.

One of the proposals would create an exception to Wisconsin’s decades-old gun-free school law, by allowing people with concealed carry licenses to have firearms in places of worship that are attached to private schools.

Backers of the bill said schools could still choose to ban guns on campus at their discretion. The bill would require the governing body of the place of worship to come up with a written policy related to firearms.

Sponsor Sen. Jesse James, R-Altoona, argued worshippers would be better able to protect themselves if guns are allowed.

“This legislation addresses a crucial gap in our concealed carry law that leaves our churches vulnerable to attacks from those seeking to strike fear into the hearts and minds of everyday Americans,” he said during a public hearing.

A similar bill cleared Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature last session, but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

“This bill neither improves public safety nor addresses gun violence in our state by allowing for an increased presence of firearms—including loaded firearms—on school grounds,” Evers wrote in his veto message in 2022. “This could only further endanger our kids and make our schools less safe.”


Except that it wouldn’t.

Church and school may exist in the same general location, but they’re rarely going to happen at the same time. Allowing people to carry to church doesn’t inherently means people are going to carry guns into the school while kids are running around.

Yet Evers should remember that potential killers have never been held in check by gun-free zone laws literally anywhere else on the planet. There’s absolutely no chance that Wisconsin’s law will somehow be the exception.

What the law does do, however, is making it so the law-abiding citizens who might end such a threat have no chance to defend themselves.

Churches or other places of worship have been the target of mass shootings in Wisconsin in the past. The Living Church of God shooting in Brookfield, Wisconsin in 2005 claimed seven lives other than the killer’s and then the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek in 2012.

We know that churches will be targets. They have in the past and will in the future.

All Evers did was make it easier for potential killers to find the ones where they’re least likely to meet armed resistence.


My hope is that he’ll come to understand this fact this year and sign a bill into law this time around.

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