By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
July 9, 2020
Wednesday, NC House lawmakers took-up an override attempt of the Governor’s veto of HB 652 – 2nd Amendment Protection Act, originally titled, “Freedom to Worship Safely.” Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the measure last week, saying that it placed children and school teachers in danger.
The vetoed measure would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to lawfully carry on the grounds of a place of worship that also served as educational property, as long as such possession didn’t take place during school curricular or extracurricular activities.
A two-thirds majority vote to override the Governor’s objections would have required 69 votes. The vote failed 66-48.
Twelve democrats initially voted for HB 652, when it passed the House and before it reached the Governor’s desk. But after the Governor’s veto, six of them switched their vote on the bill’s actual merits to support the Governor’s veto. If each of the twelve who originally supported religious worshipers’ right to protect their congregations had not flip-flopped, the Governor’s objections would have been overridden.
One of the six infamous Democrats who switched her vote on the measure, and the first to speak against the override during debate on the House floor, was Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford).
Harrison said current law prohibits handguns at places of worship that have an associated school in order “to protect the children.” She said there were many “documented instances of firearm owners leaving their guns behind on school grounds, restrooms, classrooms and gymnasiums,” which posed a threat. She said that if the legislature overrode the Governor’s veto, “it would chip away at the current prohibition of guns on school property.”
But Rep. Jay Adams (R-Catawba), who made the motion for the override vote, said the legislation was essential to prevent bad actors from targeting religious communities in North Carolina.
“Where you do not have concealed carry, you create a target zone, a free-fire zone – that’s why people go to schools and churches to create mayhem,” said Adams. “Concealed carry is a simple thing to do. No one has to carry a gun. But the mere fact that a law-abiding person may be armed at the facility is enough to deter bad actors in their calculations. This is about as commonsense as it gets.”
Adams also briefly referenced research that Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, had provided House members, listing the numerous church shootings since 2007:
First Presbyterian Church, 2007, Moscow, Idaho. The attack killed four, including the gunman, and two were injured.
First Congregational Church, 2007, Neosho, Missouri. Three people, including the pastor, were gunned down. Five others were wounded.
Youth with a Mission and New Life Church, 2007. Youth with a Mission, a missions group, had just completed their Christmas banquet when the shooter attacked, killing two and wounding two others. That same afternoon, the assailant who had not yet been apprehended by law enforcement struck a second time at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, fatally shooting two more people before being shot by a member of the church’s security team.
First Baptist Church, 2008, Maryville, Illinois. A gunman shoots down the pastor while delivering his sermon. The gunman also had a knife and stabbed two people before being subdued.
Reformation Lutheran Church, 2009. A gunman shot Dr. George Tiller as he was handing out bulletins in the foyer of his church. Dr. Tiller performed late-term abortions, and his killer was an anti-abortionist. (The Christian Action League is a staunch pro-life organization, but believes there is no justification for the murder of Dr. Tiller. The point here is to show that these mass church shootings affect all of us.)
World Changers Church, 2012, in Atlanta. The gunmen, a former church employee, walks into the mid-week prayer service and guns down the leader. He is sentenced to life in prison.
Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2015. A gunman walks into a historic black church prayer meeting and shoots down nine people. The shooter was a self-identified White Supremacist.
St. Alphonsus Church, 2017, Fresno, California. This was not a mass shooting, but an estranged husband killed his wife and her new boyfriend in the church parking lot.
Burnette Chapel Church of Christ shooting 2017. A gunman opened fire on a congregation in Antioch, Tenn. One person was killed and seven wounded before the gunman was disarmed.
First Baptist Church, 2017. The gunman entered the church in Sutherland Springs, killed 26 churchgoers and then wounded 20 more before committing suicide.
Pittsburg, PA Synagogue, 2018. Gunman comes into Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburg, Pa. shouting anti-Semitic slurs and fatally shoots eleven congregants.
West Freeway Church of Christ, 2019, White Settlement, Texas. A man with a shotgun kills two people, one of them a member of the church’s security team, before being taken down by another member of the church’s security team.
Dr. Creech said that he implored lawmakers not to allow politics or other considerations to deny churches the right to the protections they should have. In an email he sent to House members, he wrote:
“Churches today of every denomination are developing and putting into place security teams to protect themselves. HB 652 is a simple but desperately needed carve out for churches that double as places of worship and schools. It allows parishioners to carry a firearm only when the schools are not having curricular or extracurricular activities. Furthermore, it allows them the same right as any other church in the state to set their own security policy rather than have a state-imposed-one-size-fits all solution. Without this legislation, they could be sitting ducks for some deranged mind or soul.”
“This was not legislation where partisanship should come into play,” said House Speaker Tim Moore, in a press release. “We are disappointed House Democrats prioritized the political demands of the Governor over the safety of church congregations by switching their votes after the veto.”