Soon, Virginia Church Goers Will Be Able To Bring Their Firearms With Them

The Virginia State Senate voted on Tuesday to repeal a law that banned guns and other weapons in churches. Now, church goers can bring their firearms, knives, and other weapons with them when they go to worship.

Lawmakers believe that it's an issue of personal property rights, while some supporters of the law see it as a necessary means of protection in trying times.

The old law was instituted in the 1800s, enacted to prohibit a 'gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger,' or other dangerous weapons into places of worship during services. The legislation is part of the antiquated 'blue laws' that attempted to restrict people from certain activities on Sundays.

The laws were meant to enforce religious standards.

Republican state Sen. Ben Chafin sponsored the bill to repeal the law that would allow churchgoers to once again bring their weapons to church. "It's a private property rights issue," he said.

In 2011, Virginians were given the right to carry guns to church by the state attorney general, but they had to get permission from the church officials first. This law would give people the right to carry without needing to seek permission from the church.

Many conservatives saw laws preventing people from carrying guns into churches as a violation of a person's Second Amendment rights.

At least one pastor is happy about the law.

Pastor Apostle William Thompson Jr. said to NBC, "If someone comes in and starts shooting up, you know, we just hope and pray that somebody would do what needs to be done. We don’t want that to happen and with all my heart I’m praying that it won’t happen."

Many Second Amendment supporters have argued that with the rise of mass shootings in public, including shootings that have occurred in many churches across the country, people should have a right to be armed if they so choose. Preventing law-abiding citizens from carrying guns is only leaving innocent people as sitting ducks when someone intent on breaking the law walks in wielding a firearm.

With church shootings in Charleston, West Virginia, Knoxville, Tennessee and Sutherland Springs, Texas in the past few years, it's hard to make a case that citizens should be deprived of their arms.

Consider the Sutherland Springs shooting. Former National Rifle Association instructor Stephen Willeford heard gunshots coming from the church, grabbed his rifle and confronted shooter Devin Kelley.

Many more individuals might have been killed had it not been for Willeford and his firearm.

“I thank my God, my Lord, protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done,” Willeford said to the media in the aftermath. “I just wish I could have gotten there faster.”

A handful of shootings across the nation were brought to an abrupt halt when a law-abiding citizen managed to get a gun and intervene.

Not all clergy are on board. Unitarian Universalist Rev. David Miller from Fairfax says weapons contradict the Christian message of peace.

But even he admits that armed security guards outside of a church might be a good idea.

The bill isn't in the clear yet. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam plans to veto the bill.

Source: Washington Post, Independent Jouornal Review
Photo: NBC Washington

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