Guns Now Allowed in Virginia Churches

Virginia Senate says Okay to New Bill Allowing individuals to carry guns in churches

On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam was expressing his grief as over 900 Virginians lost their lives due to gun violence. He said that the state of Virginia should do their level best to reduce the escalation of firearms.

The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy organized an event at St. Paul’s Church so that he could speak to the Virginians. He addressed the multi-faith crowd by saying, “We do not need these weapons on our streets and in our society.”

Gov. Ralph Northam was an army doctor for eight years before he became a pediatric neurologist. As he had a first-hand experience of the ill-effects of firearms, he wanted the technology of “smart guns” to become mainstream.

Just a couple of hours after the event, the Virginia Senate passed a bill, allowing the public to carry arms, to any place of worship, such as the church. According to the Virginia Senate, they passed the bill because of the shooting that took place in a Texas church, last year.

According to the current state law, “If any person carry any gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.”

The new bill, SB 372, will make this law void, as the senators of the state voted 21 – 18, in favor of it.

In 2011, one of the Attorney General’s of the state said that the Virginians could carry arms into churches, provided they have permission from the place of worship. However, Ben Chafin, the GOP Senator who was the sponsor of the bill made a statement saying that Virginians should have the right to carry arms into churches.

Chafin said, "It's a private property rights issue."

The vast majority of the debate regarding the passing of the bill focused on the Texas church shootings mainly.

Chafin added, "In the communities that I represent, there are a whole lot of first Baptist churches."

However, Jeremy McPike, the Democratic Senator said that there should be more specifications in the Republican bill as it was vague. He also said that there are much better solutions in giving the places of worship the final say in weapons policies.

Jeremy McPike added, "Those who are voting for this measure are voting for guns over God."

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter