A Nebraska bill that would allow church security guards to carry concealed handguns advanced in the state legislature on Thursday.
The church provision was tacked on as an amendment to a measure that prohibits cities from having their own ban on concealed weapons.
State lawmakers voted 29-15 to adopt the amendment and 40-4 to advance the bill.
The amendment was introduced by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha whose decision was prompted by recent shootings and violence at other churches.
"A house of worship is a sacred place," McCoy said, according to Fremont Tribune. "And as such, it should be kept that way."
The Rev. Harry Buse, pastor of St. Leo Catholic Church in Omaha, said he didn't like the idea of arming security guards in houses of worship.
But he also commented, "I would like to think that we wouldn't need guns in church, though I realize times have changed," according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Sen. McCoy, who attends Westside Church in Omaha, is convinced that the amendment would enhance safety in churches. He pointed to the 2007 shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs that could have resulted in numerous deaths but ended when a church security guard shot the gunman.
Months after the shooting, New Life's senior pastor, the Rev. Brady Boyd, recommended that all churches have armed guards.
Opposing the amendment, Sen. Brenda Council called it "antithetical to the whole premise of a place of worship."
"If you believe in the power of prayer, you don't need someone in the church who's strapped" with a gun, Council said, according to Omaha World-Herald.