By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
February 17, 2023
Legislation that would close a loophole in North Carolina law and allow churches to exercise their Second Amendment rights on their own property passed the state House and Senate this week and could be on its way to becoming law.
By a vote of 77-43, the North Carolina House passed the Religious Assembly Security and Protection Act of 2023, which would carve out a concealed carry exception in North Carolina law for churches and houses of worship that are located on the same property as a private school or Christian school.
The weapons could only be carried on the property outside of normal school hours. The North Carolina Senate passed a separate bill, 29-19, that also closes the loophole. The Senate version, though, contains additional Second Amendment language about separate matters.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, spoke to a legislative committee during the week and urged members to close the loophole.
“There is no question church shootings are on the rise,” Creech told legislators. “In fact, four of the 23 fatal church shootings that have occurred since 1999 occurred just last year.”
Creech noted that Carl Chin, who is head of the non-profit Faith Based Security Network and author of the book Evil in the Sanctuary, said there were no mass shootings at faith-based properties prior to 1963.
“What we are experiencing is unprecedented in our nation’s history,” Creech said. “… “Because their churches are located with a school as a part of their facilities, they are not allowed to legally have concealed carry or develop their own security teams. Therefore, such churches need a simple ‘carve out’ that allows them to protect their parishioners during service times as long as their schools are not in session.”
More than a dozen pastors held a news conference encouraging Senators and Representatives to support the bill. Ron Baity, pastor of the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, said his congregation could be targeted because of current law.
“Shooters choose gun-free zones because they’re easy targets where they can do maximum damage in the least amount of time,” Baity said. “Cowards go where there are no deterrents. Although our First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, we’re here today as living proof that our First Amendment rights have been vacated even during non-school hours.”
North Carolina law currently offers a “two-tiered justice system,” the pastor added.
“Churches without Christian schools may carry weapons at any time to secure protection for their people,” he said. “Churches with Christian schools, even during non-school hours, are not legally allowed to offer protection for our worshippers.”
Under current law, Creech said, churches that are financially unable to pay for professional security “are prohibited from having any armed security” due to North Carolina law.
“Fatal worship shootings haven’t just happened at churches but at a Sikh Temple, a Jewish Synagogue, a monastery and an Amish school,” Creech said. “The Violence Project says mass shooters at places of worship are on the rise and motivated by anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia, or anti-Christianity. Moreover, Pacific Standard Magazine has argued that in some ways, churches may be especially tempting to shooters because they are typically light on security.”