Senate Approves Bill That Would Allow Guns In Churches on School Grounds, Now Heads To Governor
A house bill that would allow guns in churches with schools attached is now on its way to the governor's desk.
House Bill 259 will let people who have concealed weapons permits carry in churches that share properties with schools. Under current law, concealed weapons are allowed in churches but are prohibited from being brought onto school grounds. Democrats have argued allowing more guns in places with soft targets doesn’t make people safer. During the bill's third reading, Democratic Senator Tina Polsky pointed to this. “There was an FBI report of 160 active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013 and they found that only one was stopped by an armed individual with a concealed weapons permit. In contrast, 21 incidents were stopped by unarmed citizens.” Polsky believes the problem lies with the number of guns people own. “I believe there are other ways to make those institutions safe and we all know basically nowhere is safe and that’s because there’s just too many guns in America. That’s the difference between us and other countries. We have just as much mental illness as other countries. We have just as many violent people. But what do we have more than anyone else I think? Guns. So let’s not add more guns to our society." Democratic senators also believe the bill goes against property law. Under the measure, if a church is leasing space from a school, it would be the church's decision whether or not to allow concealed weapons on a property, not the schools. Democratic Senator Jason Pizzo said this could go against current leasing agreements and increase liability for property owners. “Someone can begin an activity or a use that creates an extra liability both in a premium and objectively, creates an extra expense to my liability policy and I have to eat it as the owner with something that you created. I don’t think this is going to survive, I don’t think it survives a constitutional challenge at all.” Republican Senator Joe Gruters, the Senate bill sponsor, says this bill is about ensuring safety. “This gives options to people. This is about safety. We saw what happened in Texas when a church unfortunately was the target. Six seconds it took them to secure that location. This gives schools the needed safety they need, it give churches the additional security that they need. This gives the property owners the ultimate responsibility to make the decision that’s best for them.”