[State Rep. Henry] Burns’ bill would authorize persons who qualified to carry concealed weapons having passed the training and background checks to bring them to churches, mosques, synagogues or other houses of worship as part of a security force.
The pastor or head of the religious institution must announce verbally or in weekly newsletters or bulletins that there will be individuals armed on the property as members of he security force. Those chosen have to undergo eight hours of tactical training each year. […]
The bill also allows a house of worship to hire off-duty police or security guards to protect congregants.
Burns said that he proposed the bill so that religious institutions in “declining neighborhoods” can have extra protection against crime. “I was born and raised with Mayberry, riding my bicycle any time of the day or night,” said Burns. “But we live in different times.” To be clear, however, houses of worship can authorize any person to receive a concealed handgun permit after eight hours of training — whether or not the purpose is to help them fight crime.
Last year, Ken Pagano, pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, KY, invited his congregation to bring their firearms to church. “God and guns were part of the foundation of this country,” said Pagano, adding, “I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.”
Last year, state Rep. Ernest Wooten’s (R) bill allowing concealed weapons on college campuses failed to make it through the legislature. “It is not a gun bill, it is a rights bill,” said Wooten at the time.