State to Extend “Stand Your Ground” Law to Churches

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On the heels of deadly church attacks in recent years, one lawmaker in Alabama wants to allow churchgoers to defend themselves and fellow parishioners, free from the fear of punishment.

Republican Rep. Lynn Greer sponsored a bill that would extend the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law to places of worship, and on Wednesday she asked the House Judiciary Committee to approve the legislation this session, the Associated Press reported.

Not surprisingly, the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America stand in opposition to the measure, arguing that “Stand Your Ground” laws create an environment of “shoot first and ask questions later.”

The knee-jerk response from the group proves that it either does not comprehend, or care, about the actual text of the laws, which require a reasonable threat to be present when a person defends themselves.

Does the group believe that if the 26 people murdered in the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas asked questions of gunman Devin Patrick Kelley first he would have changed his mind and not attacked them?

Or it could believe that the nine people who were murdered at the traditionally black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 would have been spared by the racist Dylann Roof if they questioned him. Considering the fact that they welcomed him into their church, it is not likely.

But that is the type of logic that groups like Moms Demand use.

Alabama pastor Brett Pitman told the Times Daily in November that churchgoers and staff can “never be too safe,” and he has assembled a security force of volunteers who, he quipped, are bored because there has been no action.

“That’s my prayer every week,” he said, referring to their boredom. “In this day and age, you can never be too safe.”

Colbert-Lauderdale Baptist Association director Eddy Garner said many of the state’s churches have volunteer security forces, many of whom have police training.

“We’d probably all be surprised if we knew how many people are carrying in church,” Garner told The Times Daily.

The Times Daily described the legislation, which Mom’s Demand should read:

According to the proposed legislation, a person would not be criminally liable for using physical force, including deadly force, in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions, including when the force is used against someone attempting to commit physical injury, robbery or a sex crime at the church.

The legislation passed the Alabama House during this year’s session and cleared a Senate committee, but never made it to the Senate floor for a vote. Greer has said he is considering sponsoring the bill again next year, but couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

While some churches can pay for professional security, Greer earlier this year said many of the small churches in his area cannot afford that. He said his bill didn’t require any action by the churches.

Greer’s bill originally called for training for volunteer security forces at churches, but Greer said the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission did not want to be involved in training parishioners.

Republican State Sen. Tim Melson said he would like the legislation to be looked at this year.

“Whether a law is passed or not, I’m sure a lot more people will be packing at church,” he said.

Would you be fine with people in your church carrying firearms? Tell us in the comments.