The North Carolina Senate passed the Religious Assembly Security and Protection Act of 2021 on Monday, which would allow churches that also house schools to bear arms.
Senate Bill 43 passed with a 31-18 vote and has been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
The one-page bill would allow an exemption for churches or religious assemblies connected to schools to allow armed security teams during services. Churches on the same property as schools are not allowed under state law to have concealed carry or armed security teams, while other churches can already exercise that right.
Last year, North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a broader bill containing the provision — the Second Amendment Preservation Act. The bill passed both chambers with bipartisan majorities, according to the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of conservative Christian lobbying organization Christian League Action of North Carolina, called on Christians to advocate for this bill.
“It’s unfortunate that Christians need to take up weapons to defend themselves at church, but it’s become a necessity at this particular time,” Creech told The Christian Post in an interview.
The North Carolina Council of Churches, which has taken a stand against firearms in the past, wrote an opposition letter to S.B. 43.
Signed by over 100 pastors and religious leaders across North Carolina, the letter addressed to the legislative leaders said allowing concealed weapons would endanger children in schools and set a dangerous precedent.
“Clearly, a safe place to worship and learn creates an environment conducive to this well-being. The presence of guns in our schools and sanctuaries does not,” the faith leaders wrote in the letter Monday. “While the sponsors of S.B. 43, the Protect Religious Meeting Places Act, may be well-intentioned, the facts do not support the claim that arming parishioners makes them safe.”
The bill, however, does not allow religious meeting places to use an armed security team or concealed carry as long as students are on campus.
“All this legislation does, which is quite reasonable, is carves out a place for them to be able to protect themselves with concealed carry or their own security team as long as the school is not in session and there are no extra-curricular activities going on,” Creech explained.
Creech said it gives churches on the same property as schools the same right as other churches in the state.
Creech explained this bill would “carve out a reasonable exemption for churches that are vulnerable from being able to protect themselves, which I would suggest is their God-given right.”
“When Cain killed Abel with the rock, God didn’t command the rock to be banned,” Creech said. “… Human nature really hasn’t changed since Cain killed Abel. What has changed is a woeful disregard for human life.”
With the rise in church shootings and hostility toward churches in the past decade, Creech said ensuring churches have the right to bear arms is an essential right.
“Since 2007, we’ve had a church shooting nearly every other year with as many as 70 parishioners being killed and as many as 38 being wounded,” Creech said. “So, we’re living in a time where there’s hostility toward the Christian religion. There’s hostility toward Church. These churches in North Carolina that double as a school are quite vulnerable because they don’t have the same right as other churches in our state to have concealed carry or have their own security team.”
Having the right to bear arms in all churches is an act of love since it allows Christians to protect their families and church family, Creech asserted.
“I think Scripture puts the responsibility on us because of our love for other people. That we ought to attempt to save the lives of others when a moment of great tribulation comes. …,” Creech said.
If the bill is passed, it will be enacted on Dec. 1, 2021.