Senate Committee blesses guns-in-church legislation

Senate Committee blesses guns-in-church legislation

Guns may soon be allowed at churches and synagogues, even if there’s a school on the property. Legislation that would allow concealed carry of weapons in certain areas of religious institutions cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, characterized the issue as a matter of property rights. “This is more of a First Amendment issue than a Second Amendment issue,” Gruters said. The bill ( SB 298 ) would change state law that now forbids weapons on properties with school, public or private. Gruters said all religious institutions should be able to make that decision themselves. Just as churches and synagogues without schools can make the decision whether to allow guns on property, the legislation would leave it to the owner of the land whether to restrict weapons. “The church would be authorized to be able to do whatever they want in terms of restrictions,” Gruters said. “They don’t have to allow people to carry guns. They could say, ‘Only carry guns during certain times or during certain periods or certain days.’ But essentially, the church would have the same ability as the other churches have now.” The committee hearing on Monday drew standard voices on gun rights to testify. The National Rifle Association’s Marion Hammer argued that it’s wrong to restrict constitutionally protected rights enjoyed at the grocery store when one walks into a sanctuary, just because there’s a private day care on site. “Some are being prohibited from having security teams to […]

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