Virginia Senate passes bill to allow churchgoers to carry a firearm alongside their Bibles

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On a tight margin, Republican senators in Virginia passed a bill to repeal a state law that makes carrying a weapon into a “place of worship” a misdemeanor.

Which means that as the number of attacks on places of worship tick upwards, churchgoers in Virginia may soon be carrying more than just their Bibles.

The 21-19 vote was strictly along party lines and repeals a law the Washington Post reported may date to Colonial times that makes it a misdemeanor to “carry any gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger or other dangerous weapon without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship.”

Fittingly, the upper chamber of the Virginia General Assembly, first established in 1619 and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, proves that, as the Founding Fathers intended, states remain laboratories of democracy — not that the occasional mad scientist doesn’t prevail, as seen last week in New York when abortion was legalized up to the moment of birth.

Citing recent attacks, Sen. Richard H. Black, R-Loudoun, told The Post his bill gives folks the chance to “fight back.”

“It really sent shock waves through all churches,” Black said of the massacres. “These folks are uniquely vulnerable because they’re lined up in a church pew; exiting the pew is very difficult. It makes them the ultimate target. . . . Either you cower in place or you fight back.”

In the mother of all ironies, the party largely responsible for removing God from our schools pointed to that in discouraging the bill that would “take God out of church.”

“We . . . foolishly took prayer out of schools . . . and now we want to take God out of church,” said Sen. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake. “If there’s anywhere you can trust God, it should be the church. Let’s depend on God on this one. Let’s not take God out of church.”

Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen, D-Fairfax, went so far as to suggest that those who carry a firearm are somehow committing a sin.

“When I walk into a house of worship, it humbles me,” Petersen said. “You need to act and be your best, and that means putting down your firearm.”

The measure has a difficult road ahead as it heads to the state House, where bills of a similar nature died in committee last year, the newspaper reported.

And then there’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, an advocate for more gun control, not less.

A spokeswoman for the governor told the paper Northam “is disappointed to see the General Assembly take up none of the reasonable gun safety measures he proposed at the start of the session, including the extreme risk protection order signed into law by Republican governors and endorsed by President Trump’s school safety commission.”

The NRA informed followers earlier this year that Northam “kicked off the New Year by proposing a laundry list of extreme gun control.”

According to WSET: “[T]he package includes measures to require universal background checks; establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order; reinstate Virginia’s One Handgun a Month law; prohibit individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms; ban assault firearms; prevent children from accessing firearms; and require individuals to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.”

Tom Tillison

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