Opinion: Guns shouldn’t trump the First Amendment

Opinion: Guns shouldn’t trump the First Amendment

According to the logic of a bill currently under consideration in the Missouri House, a church’s religious freedom rights should be overruled since some people may want to show up with a gun. Rep. Ben Baker (R-Newton) argued during a House General Laws Committee hearing Monday (Feb. 8) that a person’s “natural right” to a gun should supersede a religious community’s right to adopt and communicate its beliefs. As a Baptist minister, I find this bill unnecessary, unconstitutional, and dangerous. Missouri law currently automatically bans concealed weapons from houses of worship unless an individual receives “the consent of the minister or person or persons representing the religious organization that exercises control over the place of religious worship.” This makes sense. A religious community should be able to define for itself if they desire for individuals to bring guns into their holy place. But Baker’s HB 359 would switch the default position so that individuals with a concealed carry endorsement or permit could automatically bring a firearm into a house of worship unless that religious group posted significant signs at every entry. A church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship would not be able to determine its own policy regarding concealed guns without either accepting weapons or posting government-mandated signs on their sacred space. The Second Amendment should not trump the First Amendment. Some groups hold deep religious convictions that lead them to oppose violence and weapons of any kind. Thus, Missouri legislators should reject a bill that targets […]

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