A bill that would allow more responsibly armed residents to carry in church is on its way to the Louisiana Senate.
Known as House Bill 334, the legislation would give licensed permit holders the option of carrying inside their place of worship, provided it is not explicitly prohibited by church leaders.
Under current law, a concealed carrier needs special permission from the congregation before they are allowed to bear arms on the premises.
Rep. Bryan Fontenot (R-District 55), the bill’s sponsor, noted that while it eases restrictions church leaders still have the power to say “No Guns Allowed.”
“I see letters to the editor or even some reports at several newspapers around the state that (claim) this would take away the right of the pastor to refuse someone from having a firearm in church and that’s incorrect,” Fontenot told WWLTV.
At least one critic of the bill said it places an unnecessary burden on places of worship, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
“What this law would do is flip the burden and say anyone who wants to can and it’s up to each church to opt out,” said New Orleans Rep. Mandie Landry.
“So each church would have to put up signs, maybe a security guard, maybe get medal decorators,” she continues. “It puts the burden on them to keep weapons out and I think that is really unfair to put that on churches right now.”
Rep. Bryan Fontenot explained that the impetus behind the legislation was the failure of gun-free zones to stop violent individuals targeting various religious groups.
“Firearm free zones for churches have been unsuccessful,” he said. “When you have over 150 people killed in American in churches.”
Fontenot also referenced the 2019 shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas as an example of where lawfully armed responders saved lives.
On Dec. 29, 2019, a crazed man with a shotgun killed two churchgoers and may have killed more if not for a legally armed parishioner who fatally wounded the suspect with a concealed firearm during the melee.
Many saw the West Freeway Church incident as a reason to harden churches and no longer make them soft targets. While others, like Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action, inexplicably blamed the National Rifle Association for the carnage.
Media reporting that one armed security guard killed by the White Settlement gunman.— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 29, 2019
Armed parishioners and “security teams” in places of worship aren’t freedom, they’re the cost of allowing gun lobbyists to write our gun laws.
White Settlement #txlege
Along with HB 334, the Senate Judiciary C Committee will consider the following bills Thursday according to the NRA-ILA:
- House Bill 746, sponsored by Rep. Ray Garofalo, allows those who lawfully possess a firearm to carry concealed for self-defense during a mandatory evacuation under a declared state of emergency or disaster.
- House Bill 781, sponsored by Rep. Blake Miguez, establishes that firearms and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, suppliers, and retailers are “Essential Businesses” that shall not be prohibited from conducting business during a declared disaster or emergency. HB 781 further prevents law-abiding gun owners’ rights from being infringed during proclaimed curfews.
- House Bill 140, sponsored by Rep. Blake Miguez, prevents local authorities and municipalities from imposing restrictions to prohibit the possession of a firearm. Preemption legislation is designed to stop municipalities from creating a patchwork of different laws that turn a law-abiding citizen into a criminal for simply crossing a jurisdictional line.
If you live in Louisiana make sure to contact your local senator and tell them to support these bills.
Updates to follow, stay tuned!