Senate Brings Gun Issue Before God
As concealed carry legislation heats up on campus, another similar issue is in the Arkansas house and senate. The bill proposes to remove churches and places of worship as prohibited places for a licensee to carry a concealed weapon.
Senate bill 71, called the Church Protection Act of 2013, was filed on Jan. 17 and passed in the senate on Jan. 28. Currently, the bill resides in a judiciary committee in the Arkansas House of Representatives, according to Arkansashouse.org.
Politicians and students bicker about their feeling of security and their 2nd amendment right to bear arms, but Sen. Linda Chesterfield (Dem.) hits the nail on the head saying “… I also am very cognizant about what my bible says when it talks about the church, ‘my house shall be called a house of prayer,’” on KATV.com.
Perhaps it is just my Catholic upbringing in a safe, suburban neighborhood, with my church within walking distance of my home, but if there is ever a place a gun will never belong, it is in the church. A place of worship should not be tarnished with people carrying weapons.
While I sit in my pew, I want to be praying to my dear Baby Jesus rather than fretting about the person sitting next to me who may be packing heat. I cannot fathom any pastor or parishioner to be comfortable in a church knowing a tool of violence is in the vicinity.
Since 1999, there have been 638 deadly force incidents, according to carlchinn.com. That is among the 150 million church-going, adherent Americans, within over 340,000 congregations, according to the 2010 Religious Congregations and Membership survey. The chances of a shooting in a church, while outlawed, are incredibly small. So why change a law that is working?
In my eyes, if someone is bringing a gun to church, they are not going to pray. Then it becomes the responsibility of the police and law enforcement officers to make decisions common citizens cannot.
I can understand “we the people” have the right to bear arms and the argument that we have the right to decide where and when guns are necessary. I also understand this motion is another separation of church and state, putting more power in our hands. However, the general assembly is wrong writing “personal security is increasingly important” and claiming this act is “immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” according to Senate Bill 71 on Arkansashouse.org.
Churches are not places we “immediately” need protection. Instead, we need strict restrictions of guns, keeping security to professionals.
The introduction of weapons into places of educational and spiritual growth is entirely unnecessary. State and federal laws prohibiting weapons in churches and on campuses should remain in tact so violators can be charged simply for bringing a tool of violence to places of peace.
Joe DelNero is a senior broadcast journalism major and the opinion editor of the Arkansas Traveler.