By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
February 3, 2023
After facing two vetoes by the state’s Democratic governor, a bill that would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring their weapons to church services held on school properties may have enough votes to become law this year.
The unique bill, dubbed the “Religious Assembly Security and Protection Act of 2023” (S.B. 41), would carve out a concealed carry exception in North Carolina law for school properties if they are being used for a “place of religious worship” and if such worship services take place “outside of the school operating hours.” The language of the bill would allow concealed carry at worship services held on school properties on Sundays, for example.
The bill also would allow concealed carry in churches that have private schools on their property — again provided it is outside of school hours.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has twice vetoed similar bills.
The prospects for the bill increased when Republicans expanded their majorities during the November election.
S.B. 41 isn’t the only firearm bill. Another bill, S.B. 40, would remove the requirement that anyone purchasing a handgun first obtain a permit from their sheriff’s office.
“These are again, issues that have gone through committee; they’ve been debated, they’ve been vetted,” Republican Sen. Danny Britt told The News & Observer. “You know, we had the support of the sheriff’s association on both bills last time. Law enforcement sees the need for us to do this. They support what we’re doing here, and I think that it’s something that we need to get over the finish line.”
The religious assembly security bill previously won the support of three Democrats in the House and five Democrats in the Senate, the newspaper reported. Britt said he remains confident that both bills will become law even if Cooper vetoes them.
S.B. 41 currently is in the Senate Rules Committee.
Senate leader Phil Berger said the religious assembly security bill would allow church attendees to “take precautions to protect themselves that they deem to be appropriate.”
Cooper said he remains opposed to both bills.
“At a time when gun fire has surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of injury death for children, the legislature should focus on combating gun violence instead of making it easier for guns to end up at a school or in the hands of criminals, children or those who are a danger to themselves or others,” Cooper spokesperson Sam Chan told the News & Observer.
Cooper last vetoed such a bill in 2021. At the time, House Speaker Tim Moore said the bill was “narrowly targeted legislation that simply allows North Carolinians to exercise their Second Amendment rights at a religious meeting place that is also the location of a school, as long as it is outside school operating hours.”
The North Carolina Christian Action League supports the Religious Assembly Security and Protection Act.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the League, expressed the urgency for such legislation. Rev. Creech said:
“Since church shootings started back in 2007, its alarming the number of parishioners killed and wounded. These people were ruthlessly gunned down while peacefully studying the Scriptures, singing hymns, praying, and strategizing about how they might serve God and their communities.
“These figures and the tremendous tragedies of bloodshed they represent should outweigh any concerns expressed by those who oppose this legislation. The objections voiced are largely, if not exclusively hypothetical, and considerably less likely and even less consequential than some deranged or hate-filled soul who decides to kill indiscriminately and in mass, especially when the gunman thinks that a congregation is unarmed and unprotected.”